Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Generation Text

We now live in an e-mail and text-crazed society. You can't walk into a room these days without noticing at least one person bent over his/her Smart Phone with his/her fingers going crazy. What totally blows my mind is that most of that texting is completely unimportant dithering. I once worked with someone who couldn't stop texting. At first, I thought it was work. Then over time, I realized it was meaningless and probably not terribly scintillating texts going back and forth with men, friends or family. If you started to add up all of the time wasted texting back and forth, I bet it would be four or five hours easily of nonsense texting. Whatever happened to real conversations? Email can be just as time-consuming. But what I find particularly amusing are the people who are in the same room together and text back and forth. You're at a party and you're texting back and forth with your friend across the room? Here is an idea! Walk over and talk. What's up with that? Now there are moments when a quick text is pretty handy. Messages like: "I'm running late!" that's a useful one. "Be there in 10 minutes." Another goody. Stupid messages: "I like u." Now let me also point out the blatant butchering of the language. A whole vernacular has emerged of vowels used as expressions. "U like me?" "I see u late." I've even received chats where typing a full sentence has been expunged from the activity entirely. So now we've lost our vocal abilities and we can't spell or type. I don't expect any improvement in this area anytime soon. We used to be the generation wasting time watching too much TV. Now we're the generation wasting too much time texting!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The eBook Revolution in Full Swing

Absolutely fantastic article came out in the Wall Street Journal yesterday on eBooks. It was the first article I've read that made sense and the projections for the marketplace were absolutely unreal. They showed eBook sales projections through 2015 -- and the numbers were impressive. Today eBook sales comprise roughly $18 million of total book revenues; however, projections suggest that by 2015, sales will be in the billions. The article discussed the publishing business and cited legacy costs as the major difference for publishers in the market, with the buy-backs being the biggest issue. eBooks eliminate buy-back costs.

Publishers like 3L Publishing can ill afford the buy-back situation. In fact, we recently faced a terrible situation where we had not even received payments for books sold and the distributor was crediting buying backs $6 over the paid price (which as cited, we were not even paid). We were and are being held accountable to what is nothing more than fraudulent accounting practices -- and this is not an isolated incident. We wondered how major publishers coped with this situation. What occurred to us is that major publishers probably don't cull through the accounting of massive sales and end up paying it. The good news, we began last late spring making major decisions about the future of 3L that were prophetic.

Realizing that industry practices were sorely in need of reform and that the rise of eBooks would substantially impact the business, we made some policy changes for the better. While it will be a few more months before we finish this transition, we believe our decisions based on market indicators were right on. Without legacy costs to hamper business, we now look toward a future where eBooks dominate. I'm not suggesting print will go anywhere. I believe choices will always exist, but statistics clearly demonstrate the rise of eBooks. In fact, the momentum is building much faster than even we anticipated. I believe the Wall Street Journal's projection are slightly behind and that the market rise will become much more aggressive. An examination of our sales statistics already show an unexpected rapid increase in eBook sales.

What does this mean for authors? Well, it's a major bonus all the way around. Overhead costs for printing, storage and insurance substantially reduce. Royalties rates substantially increase. The cost per eBooks with the increase royalties rates actually tip to a higher royalty not a lower one. What authors ought to realize is that the publisher's role in the process will not go away. A publisher's brand name on a product will continue to lend credibility and open much-needed doors to the media to gain exposure. I believe the eBook revolution will actually help pull the publishing industry forward and eliminate costly processes that needed to be reformed anyway.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Three Things You Should Never Say to a Client

I don't know if I should say this surprises me or not, but I am constantly shocked when I see business owners treat poorly their own clients. What I've come to realize is that these business owners are either too "green" to know better or just don't get that poor treatment of one leads to a bad reputation with others. As important and referrals are to new business, the converse applies to bad customer service. The old "and he told two friends and so on and so forth" goes -- and in a culture that gets caught up in gossip and negativity, that kind of reputation can easily do harm to your bottom line. So, here are three things you should never say or do to a client.

I can't make your deadline because of my vacation. We all need vacations absolutely. Time off is important to re-charge your batteries and prevent burnout. No one will begrudge you time off; however, if you missed a deadline or failed to make appropriate progress on a project, best to keep your vacation plans to yourself. Don't tell a client you're going to push their deadline so you can go sun bathe on Big Beach -- and especially don't tell a client about your plans to snorkel when you just pressured him/her for an early payment so you could do so and then put off his/her project. Just give them a reasonable deadline and then deliver. Don't explain what you'll be doing -- other than their project -- in between.

I have soccer games on Mondays, the gym on Tuesdays, and girl's night out on Fridays, so I don't have much time to work on your project. Another error on the scale of don't do it. Do not give a client your personal itinerary of excuses as to why you can't make a deadline because your schedule is too crowded with extracurricular activities. Your client doesn't give a flying pig what you do all week. All your client cares about is getting what he/she paid for. You promised services, you deliver what you promised -- especially if you were pre-paid. What you have on your schedule doesn't mean bumpkus to your clients. So, keep your personal life and plans personal.

You're a pain in my a@@ aka as push-back. Don't ever let clients see you sweat, get irritated or throw darts at their pictures. Yes, some clients can make life difficult but that's not excuse to tell them off.  Keep calm, cool and focused. If you don't like the client and don't wish to work with them, then don't renew their contract. It's true some clients can be a real challenge and suck your time. Finish what you agreed to do and move on. Always be courteous and polite, so at the end of the relationship, they can't run around town and disparage your company.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

3L Publishing's Fall Roundup

Lots of fun plans for fall 2011 her at 3L Publishing. I thought I would share some of the upcoming books and projects to whip up some interest and excitement.

First Word Radio -- do you tune in each week and listen to Sonja Fisher and I verbally jest? We air two shows a week, and each one can be found in our archives. Listen to this week's show by going to the 3L website, scroll down, and click on the blue dashboard's arrow. The current show will air. We have a tremendous line up of guests scheduled to appear this fall. You will be surprised by many famous names that will be popping up. We've already had a True Blood actress, a producer and a director. We try to focus on entertainment, publishing and promotion. Our guests, however, talk about any number of topics. Here is the thing ... you will often hear about underground gossip and fun you will not find anywhere else. The True Blood hottie's admission about a certain yummy star on the show left our chins on the ground. You should check us out.

Miss Fannie Mae's Girls -- the long-awaited book about the Turner family is really about death and rebirth of a family. It's a touching, funny story as the Turner clan gathers for a funeral and a wedding. This book comes out in late fall. It's one of my favorites in the 3L catalog, and it will make a great gift for friends and family.

Coming Fall 2011.
California Girl Chronicles -- this is my first novel and already interest is very high to read it. The book is a sexy story of Brea Harper, our romantically challenged heroine who allows her love interests to wreak havoc on her life in general. Loaded with funny moments and plenty of sexy encounters, it promises to entertain and keep you coming back for more. Why? Because as the title suggests, it's a series, and the cliffhanger is killer. My focus group readers gave the book absolutely perfect marks. Now if you're conservative and offended by sex scenes, it's not for you. But if you like a good romp, then California Girl Chronicles is your must-read for fall. We will be doing an October launch party at the brand new Bar West in downtown Sacramento. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why 3L Publishing Succeeds!

I launched my business in 2006, and along the way, I learned important, valuable lessons. You will be surprised that some of the most important things to do to be successful often have nothing to do with what you think they should. The most important outlook to whether you fail or succeed has to do with your attitude. Your outlook on your business and what you set out to accomplish will contribute to the net results. Many of you are probably thinking more along the lines of cash flow and dollars and shaking your head. I'm not suggesting cash flow and dollars don't count; however, not all success is defined by how many Franklins you have in your bank account. For the moment, this discussion defines success as your ability to get to your goal -- whatever that may be. So here are, in my mind, the two critical factors that affect the outcome; your ability to get to the goal.

Persistence! I know you've heard that one before. Persistence is your ability to stay in the game and keep persisting until you achieve your goal. How many people have you seen achieve what appears to be overnight success? For those of us introduced to this person often overnight, we don't know the story of what went into the so-called instant success. Whether the journey was longer or shorter than others, I would wager that overnight had nothing to do with it. The person persisted, stayed in the game, and worked it until they achieved their goal. The commonality among those who fail is that they probably gave up. So, just know that in business and in life, persistence however long it takes pays off.

Set Your Intentions. Another ethereal one. What does it mean to set your intentions? It means you aren't afraid to say what you want and then go for it. Big or small -- if you set your intentions you are telling the world or the universe or God what you want. For example, in my previous California Girl Chronicle blog, I set my intentions to attract a certain actor to my book. You would be surprised by the power of setting your intentions. It's not unusual when you say you want something that the Universe or God will provide. Of course, the old adage, be careful what you wish for applies too. But set your intentions and then persist and go for it. A vision board also helps with this one too. Again, the skeptics out there are thinking, "What does this have to do with business?" Well, try it in your business model and you will see.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Are eBooks Bad for Authors?

I read a post about the rise of eBooks and the potential fall of authors as an outcome. One of the premises of the article was that eBooks will bring about the downfall of writers forced to accept subpar wages in exchange for their work. I found this premise interesting and mulled it over.

First, I know many authors don't have access to some of the information I have access to. I also don't know what are the arrangements for eBook payments in traditional publishing; but here is why I don't agree. The rise of eBooks has been driven by increased demand. In a capitalistic society, increased demand means increased prices. Just look at the average cost of an eBook just two years ago. The average eBook cost perhaps $3.99 on the high side. Now the average eBook on Amazon costs $9.99. When you consider that for every 100 print books sold today 200 eBooks are sold on Amazon, that's a big leap. eBook royalties at 3L Publishing are very high -- although I will not disclose them on my blog for competitive purposes. Our authors, though, make high eBook royalties, because we're a hybrid publisher that partners with our authors. The overhead costs to produce and distribute an eBook are substantially reduced, which means the author's return on investment (ROI) or break-even point comes at a fast rate. I certainly can't speak for traditional publishers and their royalties and the fallout in terms of lower royalties because of lower cost.

What I can say is that independent publishers like 3L that are doing business outside of the box in new and innovative ways with high returns for authors will make a greater impact on the marketplace. With more authors joining forces with the likes of 3L, it will force the industry to make positive changes. To continue to believe that with the rise of the eBook that traditional publishers will not be forced to rethink their practices; and distributors will find their business reduced, and as a result, may be forced under. Many distributors and publishers in general use some pretty archaic business practices with the use of "returns" as a true racket. We recently pulled out of our distribution agreement and are in negotiations with a new top-notch distributor for this very reason. All of this combined will create the perfect storm that will so greatly impact the industry that authors can expect serious reform. And what I do know is that this reform will be in the author's best interests not the other way around.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Two Bad Sales Techniques

Before I launch in this morning's rant about bad sales techniques, I have to give you a warning. I hate aggressive sales ... period. So as you read this, realize I would not feel all aglow about any of these techniques even if I was an infomercial host looking for a new job. If you are in sales, I strongly recommend you avoid the following:

Recorded voice messages sent to my smart phone -- let me be clear, anything impersonal and recorded sent over the phone is ineffective. The only time this works is when my kids' school sends out a notice about an open house and I don't want to talk to the school secretary anyway. Do not send marketing or sales messages either a) recorded or b) to my expensive smart phone where each minute you waste costs me money. My smart phone will think you're a dumb drone! And I don't mean the mobile kind.

Infomercial Irene Strikes Again -- another super annoying way to sell is what I call the 21st century snake oils salesman aka infomercial sales. Infomercial sales typically get under my skin when they're done as a part of a speaking gig. I know for a fact that most groups discourage these techniques, but every now and again, someone sneaks it in. And a big BOO goes out to this gal named Callan, who said she would not be using our business cards to solicit us later, and voile! What was in my in-box this morning? A solicitation -- much like the other dozen that I have not yet unsubscribed to, but will soon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

California Girl Chronicles Goes into Production

California Girl is now in production!
Hello Friend-Os! I wanted to share the latest cover mock-up that is pretty much finished for my new novel California Girl Chronicles. I have amazingly began Book II, which "chronicles" Brea's adventures as a screenwriter, Hollywood politics, and of course, her many men. My focus group readers have sent me notes about the cliffhanger, complaining that now they have to read Book II, and come on! That's the point isn't it? I have received few notes about revisions, and so the final proof went to design this week. I am excited to get the Advance Review Copies (ARCs) out to reviewers in wait, which includes Newsweek, NY Times, Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Book Review and others.

Plans are set in motion to do a major launch party here in Sacramento followed by a second one in Los Angeles where the book is set. I also plan to send my favorite actor du jour Alexander Skarsgård a copy of the book with the role of Kale, the producer that all of my readers have literally told me they fell in love with, earmarked. I wrote the role with him in mind. Note to writers, if you write a screenplay or book to base the script on, then do write your characters with specific actors in mind. It will actually help attract that actor or actress, because they will fit the part. I figured if Skarsgård wants to do a completely entertaining movie that is loaded with steamy scenes, this one is for him. (And he may want to after what I've seen that appears pretty serious ... think Straw Dogs coming out Sept. 16). He certainly doesn't seem adverse to nudity that is for sure. I saw an interview with Regis and Kelly where he was asked about his level of comfort with nudity, and he quipped he was from Sweden. I'm assuming Swedes are not adverse to nudity in public. Well, you know Americans. We've got the Puritanism in us. I'm sure all of my female readers are nodding and grinning.

We will begin writing the script version in the coming month. The script will not mirror the book, as we're talking two different writing approaches. The script will be much more action and visually oriented. Since I love thinking big, I want a full feature film approach versus a TV series. Already reaction to my ongoing Facebook posts about the book's release have been very strong. This genre is the top-selling eBook market too, which is a big win. I also read yesterday that for every 100 print books sold on Amazon today 212 eBooks are sold. Big, big difference. We've seen this situation happen when reviews of other 3L Publishing books come out. The eBooks sales are higher than the print version. I am planning to write about this flip in a forthcoming blog. I was just super excited to show off the new California Girl cover and let you know how it's progressing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Childish Philosophy

After listening to my seven-year-old daughter explain life to me, I've decided that we should all live life by the simple philosophy we'll call the "Whatever" theory. Here is how that goes ...

Do you want to go with me to Target? Whatever
Do you want breakfast? Whatever
Do you want to go to school? Whatever
Do you want to swim? Whatever

It hit me the other day that if we all lived by the "Whatever" theory stress and high blood pressure would be nonexistent. Yes, I think I've found the cure for all ills. The "Whatever" theory suggests we don't really care about anything in particular BUT it shows a positive to willingly to go along with the game. So, if we all lived by "Whatever" we wouldn't care and we would go along -- hey! There is something to that I think.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fun with First Word Radio

Sonja Fisher and yours truly.
Our radio show First Word Radio begins today at 5pm (PDT). Each week we tell funny stories about entertainment, books, movies, and more. This week's guest is Dr. Cecil Forte, author and relationship expert. If you read my newsletter First Word, then you know it's never a dull moment. If you like the show, please also send the link to a friend.

Tips to Make Real Social Media Connections

I've noticed many people don't know how to start a real conversation on Facebook. You've probably read already my rants about the perfunctory use of the word "hi" in chat mode. You've probably also realized that a simple "hi" will not incite a conversation. Well, I got to thinking that if I was going to rant and rave about not using hi as a means to start a conversation with a user than perhaps I ought to give you some tips on openers with new friends that don't involve a one syllable word that goes nowhere except in my delete box. These tips are super valuable for connecting with people or business owners you want to build an authentic relationship with, and here you go:

Always participate in your social media community. No, this tip does not mean actually attending the hundreds of events you are invited to. It means checking out the Top Headlines where your new connections are sharing with each other. If you don't stretch outside of your old connections, you are not networking and using the media properly. So, check out your new connections and see what they're talking about. If you see someone who says something you like, do comment. A real comment should continue to lead to more comments until your name becomes familiar to the person. After a short while you will be in a position to make the next move, which is to privately message them. Before you send a message, though, you should consider the next tip.

Check out their profiles. Find common interests, and then when you do share on their wall, you're not being random. Find out what they do for a living and why they're on social media. Just because he/she either includes relationship status or do not for privacy reason, do not automatically assume this person uses social media to "hook up." The no. #1 mistake I see happen are prospective singles on the hunt for a new hook up. Since I'm a woman, I can only speak to the men's techniques. I don't post relationship status to protect my family's privacy and to prevent identity theft (a whole other blog). When you do post your profile information, make sure you don't give out specific information that could lead to identity theft. The powers of observation, though, can tell you a lot. If the person of interest is sharing in his/her community, you can tell a lot about how he/she uses social media and for what purpose. If it is, in fact, to troll for social reasons, you'll know it right away, but if it's not, your immediate flirting and poking will only turn off the person you might like to friend.

Private Message. Next after you spend real community time with your person of interest and feel like a rapport has started, message him or her, but avoid chat. Chatting should only be established when you really do know the person pretty well. A random chat is both annoying and disconcerting from strangers. A private message is much less threatening -- and that goes for both business and personal. If you want to take a friendship from virtual to real, always tread carefully. Make sure you arrange to meet in a public place and never, ever give out your personal information until you've spent quality time with your "friend." Do not invite this person to your home! Do not give them your mobile number if you've never met them. You will end up wasting time having to block them should something go wrong. Do not even give them your private email if you don't feel comfortable. No matter what, be safe and cautious. After all, a social media "friend" is still a stranger that you may never have met. Exercise caution.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

You Know Your Newsletter makes an Impact When ...

I put out a weekly newsletter also aptly titled First Word. It is a regular Sunday morning read for my 400+ list, which consists only of people I have met and a few new subscribers from my 3L Publishing website. I have to say, though, I know my list pretty well. Anyway, I digress ... each week the newsletter is delivered to those 400 mailboxes with various serious, irreverent and humorous observations about publishing, PR and marketing. The newsletter has become such a Sunday staple that should it go missing, it would cause a four-alarm fire of concern among some Friend-Os, as I call my loyal readers. (The term Friend-O came about when I referenced Cheerios once a long time, and somehow I liked the term Friend-O, because it sounded so cheerful.) The other amusing part is that now some readers will specifically ask me to make certain points to spread the message about something. You know your newsletter has hit home when people specifically make requests. Now many people squirm and cry "too much work" when I suggest they create a newsletter like First Word to promote their products and services. The very idea of a weekly commitment sends them running screaming a loud, "No," from the room; but let me tell you something my Friend-Os, nothing beats a product that people not only follow with ardent enthusiasm and loyalty, but also start making requests for information to be added, because they know it makes an impact. I can't tell you exactly how much business I get from having First Word and how it reinforces my brand, but I can say it's worth the investment. If you're still running screaming from the room, well, you won't get to enjoy the results -- the powerful ones.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why the Internet is Like Nuclear Waste

When I speak in public, I always caution people about what they post on You Tube, Facebook or Twitter and other social media. I remind my audience that the Internet is like nuclear waste; it never goes away. So last night I went out with my dear friend Cheryl Mullick, owner of Exquisite Esthetics by Cheryl, for some girl chat and drinks. We were talking about just frothy fun and my upcoming book California Girl Chronicles and just giggling about the book's sexy fun. Well, I mentioned that I have a particular actor in mind for one of the male leads when I develop the TV series, and then I mentioned how I had stumbled on this super weird video of my favorite actor on You Tube doing some strange stuff -- one was this bizarre shower scene where my favorite actor did nothing but suds up for the camera with two guys? I think it was supposed to be sexy, and he did it early in his career, but what an odd thing to post. While Cheryl and I were cracking up about the strange video, I went to show her and then we stumbled on yet another really weird one where our favorite star was romping around with another guy (again ... and he's supposed to be straight from what I've seen elsewhere), and they're doing strange stuff and filming it. Now our favorite stud is a major star. It occurred to me that perhaps these strange, little films might be a tad bit embarrassing. He was much younger at the time, and he definitely has a more mature gravitas today, but dear readers, he just made my point ... the Internet is like nuclear waste. I'm quite certain those films will never earn an Academy Award, but they definitely give the rest of us something to wonder and ask, "Why?" They weren't porn or anything; they were just kind of weird and disconcerting. The real message is clear. Don't post your home videos on the Internet even if you're just having fun. You do not know what will happen 10 years from when your posted 20-year-old party pictures and your prospective boss stumbles on them -- and the job you wanted suddenly goes bye-bye. Control your image, use good judgment, and remember whatever you post (pictures or video) has a long shelf life. Funny antics today could turn into embarrassing and stupid activities tomorrow that could lose jobs or clients and destroy images and reputations.

Friday, August 19, 2011

California Girl Chronicles - Book 1

My new novel California Girl Chronicles: Brea and the City of Plastic is finished and in production. I am over the moon and thrilled. I have been pitching Advanced Review Copies and so far it has been a major home run. In fact, I got the editor over at Newsweek to laugh and requested a copy. I got the New York Times to (finally) respond with submission guidelines, and the Sacramento Bee and San Francisco Book Review also asked for copies. To your left is the early prototype of the book cover. My longtime friend and graphic artist Erin Pace is working on some refinements to it, so this isn't quite the final, but I was so excited to see it come to life, I wanted to share. Our joke was that Erin needed to work on the "boob job," meaning (a-hem) give her bust some assistance. We'll be adding endorsements too. Now my favorite endorsement comes from Cheryl Mullick, dear friend and part of my focus group, who said, "Dirty girl! I love it." That statement made me laugh aloud. The book is randy, hot and sexy with a very engaging story line that will suck you in and keep you wanting more. Other comments are about the cliffhanger and wanting to know the what's next. I again laughed. It is a sexy series, so my readers will have to wait. Book 2 won't come out until summer 2012 -- sorry. I know what my romantic heroine's next moves will be, but you will have to wait. In the meantime, we are hosting a launch party in October here in town at one of my client's brand new restaurants, and Sonja Fisher is pulling together an LA launch party too. Sonja and I are also putting together the series treatment and developing a pilot to pitch to HBO. Her agents are already jazzed up. Here is my prediction: This is going to be huge! So stay tuned. You may be privy to the making of the next big thing! How fun is that?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Go with the Flow

I have found that you constantly have to be able to change or as the cliché suggests, "Go with the flow." Each year, I think, "OK, I've nailed it. This model is it. This is how we do business." The next year rolls around, and my preconceived notions fall to the wayside. So, it seems this is not how we're going to do business. So, many new changes are coming to 3L Publishing in the Fall 2011. I am now officially working with my long-time friend and now staff member Justine Brown. She is more than qualified to help me push 3L forward to the next level. Justine and I met back at our magazine jobs in the '90s. I know I am making it so we sound so old. She used to freelance for me and over the years has picked up jobs here and there. She recently left Deloitte, and I'm excited that she decided to join our team. I've toyed with the idea of hiring her for quite sometime, but the sun and the stars never lined up until now.

Since Justine and I have worked together off and on for 20 years, I have no question about her integrity, skills and ability to do what she says she's going to do. A critical mistake you can make when hiring someone or agreeing to work with someone is really not exactly knowing enough about them. This matters most when you hiring key positions where the person can heavily influence or make or break your company in some way. I've made that mistake, and I've learned from it. You've heard the phrase, "One bad apple can spoil the bunch." One bad apple can truly turn a company upside down and threaten to destroy your hard work. Again, I learned that the hard way. In Justine's case, she has both the editorial AND marketing chops required to do this job. She is not all about hype, smoke and mirrors. She is a get-it-done with finesse and skill type of executive. I've seen her results over and over again. I don't even have to guide or tell her how to do things -- she knows and she executes.

So, here are some key points when you go to hire a new, non-spoiled apple: if possible do hire someone who you know and know well. It's not always possible to do that, but when the opportunity arises, do it. Make sure the executive really knows how to do their jobs. If he/she does not, you will be forced down into their weeds to fix it (which you don't want to do as a leader of your company -- and it's bad for morale). Anyone you hire should also place a premium on integrity, ethics and basic morality -- especially if they will be working with your clients. No commitments or promises should be made that are not kept. This person should place emphasis on truth and honesty and (like you) keep it all accountable and transparent. At the end of the day, there should never be a question like, "You spent 10 hours to drop a press release on a wire service. Why does it take 10 hours to drop a release?" or "You've spent 20 hours on my campaign, but I don't have a single result." You see in a business like PR or marketing, which is 50 percent of what 3L does, transparency becomes critical. No one should ever have to ask any of those questions. P.S., 10 hours on a wire drop? Really?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Headless Shirt Men

New trend in Facebook "headless" shots. Guys using a chest-only shot without a head. I am completely mystified by this new way to include a profile shot? What is that about exactly? These shots are not shirtless, mind you. They are simple shots from the chest down. All of them are wearing shirts -- sometimes ugly shirts. My favorite was the "vintage" Le Tigre polo shirt (remember those). I don't get it. Why would you make your profile head shot headless? Isn't the profile picture supposed to let us know what you look like? I know some people use them to make statements about their personalities or looks, but how does a headless, chest shot convey either? Some of these shots aren't even good photos -- they are often dark, grainy, hard-to-tell-what-you're-looking-at pictures. The only thing your headless shot conveys to me is that you (a) don't know how to take a photo with your head in it (b) you take bad photos in general or (c) you're a tad bit strange.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Networking Etiquette

I've decided I don't mind that some of the people I meet while networking are slightly crazy and half-baked business people. If I didn't run consistently into them, I wouldn't have half as many entertaining stories for my blog and newsletter. In fact, whenever I am in a boring, fallow period creatively just hit the networking scene and something is bound to pique my interest. I've gone to three recent networking events that I gathered some new "whoppers" to share and keep you either nodding, "yes," or wondering if you've ever done that. If you're wondering, then my best advice. Don't feel guilty or bad about it. Just quit doing it. This is the best 10 cent advice you'll ever get in a blog. So, here are some recent encounters to amuse you.

Confrontational Connie -- polite conversation rules the day. When networking no need to be up in anyone's face about anything no matter what it is. A networking event is not the time to start a political debate nor is it time to start asking someone why he/she doesn't like your product. Your need to prove you are either respectively right or that your product is great should not trump polite conversation. Confronting, arguing or cajoling those around you that you want to do business with isn't a great strategy. What this approach will do, though, is drive people away from you.

Organizational Olga -- now this kind of amuses me. I ran into Olga who showed me her unkept files just to make a point of how busy she is. Her files looked like my seven-year-old organized them and used crayons to make appointments. First, we were at an event so the point of showing me these files was somewhat confusing. Second, her messy record-keeping was almost frightening. If her point was to show me how great she keeps files, well, um ... how so? If her point was to show me how busy and unorganized she is, yep, mission accomplished. Either way, this was not a good business strategy. I frankly don't do business with unkept and unorganized Olga. Now had Olga whipped out her fancy new iPad and showed me her fantastic new system, sold!

Stressed-out Samantha and who's the most stressed out wins -- do you ever feel like you ended up in a potato sack race with Stressed-Out Samantha and she's desperately trying to hop faster to win the, "I'm-on-the-edge-of-insanity" contest? Don't ever bring up that you've had a tough day to Samantha -- that discussion will turn into a laundry list of stress that includes everything that is making Samantha's very existence so much more excruciating than 99 or maybe even 100 percent of the population. Just keep your networking conversations to fair roads and nice weather, and you'll be fine. And if Samantha starts pontificating about her impossibly high stress levels, just quietly excuse yourself to get a glass of water.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Use Your Book to Create Opportunities

In the highly competitive book business, most authors come to 3L Publishing with their sights set on making the New York Times best-seller list. While that is an admirable goal, those authors always make me nervous. First, the desire for your book to climb to the top of the list is a fun and fabulous goal, but only when you put everything into perspective and realize that accomplishment should actually not be used as a lofty measure of your success. I don't discourage my authors' dreams. What I try to do is redirect and redefine their ideas of success. When you write a book and put it there, you face several competitive realities. First, did you know that literally thousands of books come out each day? Second, only a tiny percentage of those books ever come close to becoming best-sellers. What I like to do is redirect the author's attention to the easy wins. What opportunities will having a book give you? Here are some examples of winning opportunities these authors would not have had without their books.

1. Let's start with me. If I had not written Second Bloom, I would not have received recognition as a publisher. I would not have had authors ask me to publish their books, and therefore, 3L Publishing would not exist. My book opened the door to a new and profitable business opportunity. My other book Vanity Circus has led to numerous authors signing on with 3L. If I had not written Vanity Circus, I would not have had so many other new business opportunities. And in both cases, I would not have the monthly opportunities to speak, meet more clients, and attract new business. Did either book make the best-seller list? No, and I'm as happy with the outcome as can be.

2. Another fiction author wrote his fantastic book. It has sold marginally well. After he published the book, he wrote the screenplay version. The screenplay got optioned. He also is fielding offers to consult on television shows. Would he have had the opportunity to meet the right people to move his screenplay forward without his book? Probably not. Would he be fielding TV consultation offers? Probably not. Do you think he regrets his book? Probably not.

3. A non-fiction author wrote a niche book. After a business owner read the book, he offered this author a highly coveted CEO position. While this author continues to sell his niche book directly to the target market, he is happy with good, steady sales. He is also happy with the new, high-paying job offer he received as a result of his book. Do you think he regrets that his book hasn't made the best-seller list? Probably not.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Best Mistakes in Life are Repeatable

In business, we make mistakes. If you claim you don't make mistakes I will give you a nod, grin and say, "Really?" Mistakes made in business are akin to the old cliché, "Nobody's perfect." You might come into your business with a level of assurance and expertise, but as you get your arms around your business, you will may stumble and maybe even fall. I've made my share of missteps in business. The real success in each mistake is to learn from it, because as the other old cliché goes, "What you don't learn you will repeat." So when you stumble and error your number one priority should be to figure out what you did wrong, and then (hopefully) don't repeat it. So, the only real failure will be your failure to learn from it. And if you don't learn from it, you can count on this much like death and taxes, you will fail again ... and again ... and again. Do make sure each time you hit a misstep, analyze it. What did you do right? What did you clearly do wrong? Make sure you identify the answer(s), and then right it, which really means, don't do it again.

Friday, August 12, 2011

How You Know You're Out of It

Ever had one of those moments when you thought, "Man I am just out of it." I had one of those moments last night when I was at a presentation for Sacramento eWomen Network. It was on the emerging Quick Reference Codes (QRC ... for you acronym consumers out there). These ugly codes are like instant readers that you put an app on your smart phone and it automatically reads these codes like a business card or directs the user right to your website or special promotion. Now some early adopters out there are nodding and thinking, "Yeah, I use those all of the time." The fact that I, the person once immersed in technology and ate it for breakfast every day, had never seen or read about these was a bit alarming. When over half the room comprised mostly of middle-aged chicks knew about them, super alarming. I suddenly realized in a flash I am truly out of it. I wonder if that's what senior citizens finally realize when they don't know how to turn on the ignition in new cars? Or they don't have a clue what is an iPhone. Or they've never seen Angry Birds. You know there comes a time in everyone's lives when this harsh reality hits them over the head. You're no longer hip, trendy or in-the-know. I don't know whether to be disturbed or just rejoice in my complete and total disconnection from the techno world. Have I suddenly become luddite part II? Good question. We'll see ...

Inspiration for the Day

I am easily inspired. Today I woke up at my usual late morning wake-up -- a gift I give myself as a reward for not punching someone else's clock. I was talking to someone last night who is also an entrepreneur, and she mentioned she hardly thinks about the days when she was a corporate worker. She put it out of her mind, which is a good thing. As for me, I keep it front and center in the back of my mind. Why? Because it's no place I ever want to be. I have always been aware of the blessings of my freedom and choices. I know that these choices and the freedom I have to live life my way require dedication and hard work. It requires keeping my eyes forward and pushing my business toward new levels of success -- that I don't become complacent. When I did entered into business relationships, in the past, that might somehow get in the way of my designed life, I always protected myself. I would never allow anyone to get in the way of my goals and dreams. This fact is one thing that got shuffled away in the middle of conflict. Whatever someone else wants to with what Erika Lyremark calls their "Red Carpet Dreams" isn't of interest to me unless I can be supportive. Only my Red Carpet Dream interests me. The life I live today is part of that dream. 3L Publishing is a part of that dream. My desire to be on this trajectory moving forward toward wherever I land -- all part of that dream. And anyone who would consider it even possible to distract or move me off my laser-beam goals is just wasting idle time. I will not budge. I know where I'm going and on a daily basis, I am divinely inspired. I am blessed in every way, and I never forget it. So I send my gratitude and appreciation to everyone who helps move me forward.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How Many Followers do You Have?

I took this photo in Alaska in front of the Indian House Restaurant. Yes, I was surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, and I snapped the daisies smiling all sunny at me. Meg Ryan said it best in the old movie You've Got Mail when she stated, "Daisies are the happiest flowers." I agree. And so moving on ...

So here is another astute (and I use these terms loosely because I would wager some of you might not find my so-called wisdom "astute" anytime soon) observation about the social media world. Now I've been focused on social media a lot lately because I've put in more desk marketing time than usual this past month. So yesterday I said the new break-up methods involved new media. Today I want to point to the "new popularity contest." This so-called contests involves collecting. Collecting what? you ask. Followers! Now the business or person who collects the most followers wins! We have this whole new measurement of special. The more followers you have, the more people you reach -- if you're a business owner. Now individuals amassing a four-digit following are more likely celebrities or just "friend hungry" people who think a following comprised of a bunch of strangers makes them look important. I find this entertaining -- those people who measure their self esteem on a four- or five-digit following. Does it really mean anything about you as a person to have a huge following? Unless you do personally know all of your followers, I would suggest it only means you did your due diligence in "confirming" requests at a steady, but albeit impressive pace. If you're a business owner, what does a big following mean outside of a self-esteem boost? It means a greater reach. It means increased visibility for your business and brand. It also has some fascinating follow out. I have people who "friend" me and then lay in wait. They observe what I post and do. And then they approach me when they feel satisfied that 3L Publishing could help make their marketing, PR or book a reality. I've actually had people scoff about my "friends" number. They will blow this off and insist their personal page needs to only be people they know. All I'm going to say is: If you own a business and keep your social media connections strictly to your known network, you lose opportunities. You lose opportunities to these connection's connections. And like the famous Clairol commercial, there goes your told-two-friends chance.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Social Media -- The New Break Up

I had this revelation while I was writing First Word, my weekly newsletter, and I thought I would entertain you with it. Did you know that people now use their social media "actions" to make a statement. It's the new way to tell your "friends" you're mad at them or more like you don't want to be associated with them. It's actually pretty funny when you think about it. You said something I didn't like in my "share" ... bam! I can delete the whole post. It's quite an interesting way to end an argument in that respect. I don't want to know what you're doing anymore ... bam! I can "de-friend*" you. How's that for, "I don't want to see you anymore!" Same goes for my newsletter First Word. People can use the unsubscribe to make a similar statement. I don't like your newsletter ... bam. Unsubscribe. See how powerful that is. It could even become kind of cathartic I think. I'm in a bad mood -- and you "friend" just lit me up some more ... bam! We're not "friends" anymore. Ah, doesn't that somehow feel better? I also like the one where this person told me she felt that being my "friend" on Facebook was (and I quote) "a conflict of interest," but then starts reading my newsletter and clicked to the blog. I occurred to me that was also an interesting statement. Hm ... wouldn't the same conflict of interest exist with my newsletter or blog? All of a sudden, this excuse felt perhaps slightly disingenuous. So what did I do? You guessed it ... bam! I unsubscribe her myself. So just for the record the "de-friend" and "unsubscribe" go both ways. Now say it altogether now, "I'm just saying."

*De-Friend: The noun turned into the new verb, which describes the act of clicking on a button that removes an individual from your Facebook friends. It can also be described in all tenses -- de-friend, de-friended, de-friending.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

You're Only as Good as Your Vendors

If you own a business where you have to rely on vendors to deliver certain parts of your products or services, realize those are critical relationships. Your vendors will produce your products, and whoever you elect to work with should offer high-quality service that mirrors your own. If your vendor's services don't reflect the same quality of what you offer then your own reputation and quality of products will be hurt. In the case of 3L Publishing, we work with key print vendors and now with eBooks conversion vendors. We look not only at their customer services, as poor or excellent customer service will also reflect on us, but we also look at their end product. Does the end product reflect the kind of product we want to represent our company? How is the paper quality? How is it cut? Yes, the paper cut matters. Inside pages overlapping the cover look bad. Covers being cut too wide also look bad. How does the cover quality compare to expectations? Even with eBook vendors, the question about conversion quality counts. How does the converted product actually look? Are there random dingbats? Is the resolution OK? So many questions go into the outcome. And when it comes to critical service, how does that vendor behave? We once had a vendor actually treat us with utter disdain and call our team incompetent when it was, in fact, their team that exercised the incompetence. Even if it were our incompetence, telling us so was very bad form. A proper client/vendor relationship asks for respect, courtesy and assistance -- not shame, blame and disdain. So when you go to hire your publisher know the vendor relationships matter almost as much as the publisher.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Resilience

Here is what I've learned about resilience. Resilience is the ability to not just get back up and keep going, but know that by doing so you will be able to move on. In the past, I used to dwell on the situation. Dwelling on any situation does not change it, but it does distract you from something very necessary -- healing and moving on. Just know when faced with a difficult situation -- be it personal or business -- that if you can understand the process, not dwell but reflect, and then move on, time will heal everything in its proper course. You just keep getting up and on, and pretty soon, it won't feel as hard to get up and get on. And then you'll start feeling better. So, I am getting up and getting on. And within that, I know in due time I will feel better and will be back on track. And guess what! I am on my way. Get up, get on, heal and feel better -- new mantra. If you want to know more, pick up a copy of my book Second Bloom available on the 3L Publishing website.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Trends in Books

One my associates made the comment about how hard it is to sell unique story ideas. It seems like Hollywood, publishers like to stick to tried-and-true subjects that have sold in the past. You know like Hang Over 2. Problem for the writers is that it forces them to stick to retread topics or form a highly persuasive marketing proposals within their book proposal to persuade publishers to take a leap of faith. When you're already working in a highly competitive area, asking a publisher to leap and possibly fall isn't always a persuasive argument.

When I decide on a book, I always base it on a little bit of gut and a little bit of knowledge about the marketplace. For example, when the Fertile Kitchen Cookbook authors approached me, I considered my own experience with infertility. I remembered the hunger for knowledge and solutions -- and the library I accumulated. Knowing that couples experiencing this sort of crisis would also be just as hungry for knowledge, I knew that book would do well -- and it has done very well. When I read A Feast at the Beach, I saw the potential if the author would do two things. Change chapter 1, which broke the tone of the book, and add the recipes at the end of each chapter. This decision would also increase the page count, as the book at that time was too short. My gut told me people would love the charm and magic of the book -- and the escape to Provence through the eyes of a child. I was right.

These decisions are also made (for me) based on the material. I need to personally like the material. Other publishers with more to risk than 3L Publishing will not use their collective guts to make choices. They will be much more business like and do a lot more analysis. Truth is, you can analyze the market to death and that will only get you so far, because the buying public is finicky. If the publisher of Harry Potter hadn't take a leap of faith, Harry, his friends and author JK Rawling would not be clinking champagne glasses together over their $500 million box office winner. And Rawling, a former single mother on the dole, would not be one of the wealthiest authors on the planet.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Movies vs. Books

I love both movies and books no doubt. Fans of books, though, tend to get all riled up when the movie doesn't precisely follow the book. Although the difference between novel and screen writing is tremendous. Now that I've officially done both, I have a much better understanding as to why it's not easy to keep the film version married to the book. As a novel writer, I have a much greater canvas to paint. I can take my time (to a point, of course, lest we bore the reader) developing my story and characters. I'm not constrained necessarily by parameters of length. A feature film, though, cannot be more than 120 pages. Now that's not to say that some screenwriters can't write a mini-series or even a series. But if you're a new writer and you break from tradition you greatly increase your chances of being largely ignored by the Hollywood community that does stick to protocol. Even within that community, different studios have different requirements. I've heard (although not validated) that Warner Bros. only accepts scripts 90 pages in length while the traditional feature length is between 110 and 120 pages. When you have fewer pages to tell your story within that requires a different talent and skill. Also, if you're thinking about screen writing, remember, film is a visual medium. You have to show everything. And what you're showing has to be visually interesting. In a book, you have to describe everything; but I always caution writers of either medium not to get caught in the minutia. What does that mean? Whether describing a visual or a setting or even a person, don't spend more than a moment on the details. And if it's an unnecessary detail, don't even include it -- and especially don't include it if does absolutely nothing to drive the story. I could spend a whole other blog on writers who get stuck in the minutia, so maybe next time. In the meantime, keep writing.