Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Great Author and Fantastic Speaker

Already impressed by Josh Mathe's new book In the Footsteps of Greatness, I sat down to my own writers' group (Writers Who Mean Business) last night to listen to his presentation on the subject. Kudos to Josh for a dramatic home run. As his publisher and publicist I want to point to why Josh's presentation was well done.

Organized and thoughtful. He had created a PowerPoint he kept on his iPad so as he went through the slides he had it there to prompt him, but he didn't rely on it per se. He referenced it.

Targeted and on message. He knew what he was talking about and (more importantly) WHO he was talking to. He was discussing "how he wrote his memoir" to give other writers fresh perspective and ideas.

Natural and easygoing. He was "authentic" (as he described it) and relaxed. He wasn't try to sell anyone on his book. He was naturally and effortlessly leading the audience along through his message. In other words, Josh acted like ... Josh.

Interactive and accessible. Josh engaged his audience. He was fluid and open to accepting questions during his presentation. He talked and interacted easily with his audience. He was engaging and open.

Now all of this seems like it's easy. But as we all know public speaking makes some people nervous. My insider tip: don't care so much. I don't mean be cavalier and sloppy. I mean don't make your presentation anything more or less than it is -- a presentation. I tell people that tip all of the time, but often they are nonplussed. They can't put themselves in that space. They are self-conscious. But the best most well-received presentations are those done in a way like Josh did it. Josh enabled connection, understanding and receptivity to this message.


Monday, July 28, 2014

NOT a Micromanager

I don't like micromanagement. I had a conversation with an old friend of mine I ran into at Bistro 33. We came from some familiar stomping grounds together. I've known her for years. Anyway the discussion turned to micromanagement. Some people don't truly understand the difference between true leadership and being a micro-manager. Micromanagement is actually time consuming and in many ways very unproductive.

Here is my credo: hire the right people, put them in the right jobs, and trust them. 

If you can't trust your people to do the job (after proper training, of course) then you shouldn't have hired those people. Micro-managers are not effective. People typically want to work (if you hired the right ones), and they often enjoy the responsibility.

If you feel the "need" to sit down and look over your employee's shoulder (an employee doing a good job) then my question to you is, "What is wrong with you?" Answer the inner questions, "Do you feel the need to try and control them?" "Are you maybe on a power trip?" Do you micromanage because ... you CAN?

This gal was explaining her situation. Her manager was telling her essentially go here, sell this, do this, and do it my way. She is a very competent manager herself. I was surprised, because after working around her I could tell you with all confidence, she's a cracker-jack pro. She knows her business. When her manager started telling how to do every details of "her" job she started losing business. A competent, knowledgeable employee doesn't need to be directed and told how to spend every minute of every day. Telling an employee how to do his/her job in such specific details should only be reserved for entry-level beginners -- and even then give them a chance to put the job in action.

All this kind of management serves to do is drive out perfectly good workers. We're all adults, right? Do you think an adult wants to be directed around like a five-year-old? Told how and what to do with every minute of every day? Do you think morale is served this way? Do you think this employee might want to quit? The very last thing that drove me (thank goodness) out of corporate was a micro-manager and all (excuse my explicitness) the BS that came with her power trip.

Bottom line: leaders lead and leave competent people to do their jobs. Micro-managers teach finger painting to perfectly competent adults. Leaders retain workers. Micro-manager drive them out.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Morning Musings

Sometimes you just got to throw your hands up, shrug and say, "I don't know!" Life doesn't always serve up answers to questions in one swift reply. Sometimes I wish it would! Much is unknown as our life unfolds. We want to see the road ahead. We wish to know our futures. We go to psychics for hope of answers (some of us do). Sometimes we get answers we don't want to hear. Sometimes we get answers that make no sense. And sometimes we get no answer at all.

To achieve true peace in life you have to let go. You have to be willing to surrender to your higher power, and when the time comes to make a choice, let your inner voice guide you.

Is this easy? No! We all think we can control life, but we can really only control ourselves. We can only control how we chose to respond. We can empower ourselves. We can make good decisions. We can let the questions stand without answers. It is easy for me to write this information. It is harder for me to live it. I would imagine for many of you that is the case.

But sometimes you just get in and let go!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Daily Blog Quotient

Do you want to build readership for your blog? Are you a non-writer but you want to hire a writer? Are you thinking, "I could pay to have it done a couple of times a week..." Most clients don't want to pay a writer to blog more than a couple of times a week. Understandable given the expense. Blog writers are paid per hour. The obvious value in blogging isn't easily put into a results measurement either. The number one question is almost always, "How do I know if it's working?" So let's walk through some of these points.

How often should you really blog to be build effective readership? This answer may not be the one you want to hear: every day. You have the minimum which I say is 2-3 times a week. Then you have the favorable maximum, which is daily (sometimes including weekends). Two to three times a week builds audience but it becomes more sporadic than consistent. You'll see in the statistics spikes in readership that coincide with articles being released. A daily blog has a more consistent readership. The stats look more like a mountain range with peaks and low-level valleys.

"How do I know if it's working?" Is your business prospering? Are you growing not shrinking? What marketing strategies are you using? Is blogging part of your obviously successful marketing mix? Have your blogs coincided with your business growth? When I get asked this question, I pose an even riskier question back: "Do you want to find out if it's working?" "Yes ..." "Stop blogging and see what happens." Most clients get a blank look on their faces. Stopping a successful action just to find out whether or not it has a direct or indirect impact on sales is risky business. Not only do you risk your loyal readers going away, but also you risk sales.

Reality is results in marketing are typically indirect anyway. I have asked many, many, many people, "How did you hear about us?" "Um ... I don't really remember..." those responses are the indirect results of marketing. Most likely those people were influenced to contact you via exposure and increased visibility. Maybe a friend mentioned your company, and then maybe they saw something else about your company (maybe they even read your blog), and then maybe they went into skeptical interest. They kept seeing information about your company. They connected to you on social media and then started to occasionally read your blogs. By the time they become "trigger happy" and asked, "Where ... ?" They don't remember because of all the things I just described that included reading your blog.

The key takeaway: to build long-term, effective readership that results in sales requires a investment of time and resources to blog daily.

My company 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com) provides blog services. If you want to outsource your blog, contact us at 916-300-8012 and we can discuss pricing.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Of Fame and Promotion

Once in a while I open the door to my world and tell people about my adventures. Since I'm private overall, I don't really talk too much about where I've been, what I've done. Life is to be lived first and foremost. I don't get caught up in pretense. I recently got asked by a client, "Have you ever represented anyone famous?" I was startled by the question, because fame in many cases is of no consequence to me. I have always focused on the work.

Celebrities are people -- nothing more nothing less. If you've worked around celebrity you'll truly become even less impressed. I remember going to the ladies room when I was working on a project on the Paramount lot and Ellen Barkin came in to use the facility. I just remember pretty much glancing at her and not thinking too much about it. Later I kind of chuckled and thought, "Everyone has the same business to do." LOL I was there to work. So Ellen Barkin wandering into the bathroom was the least of my concerns.

Have I represented anyone famous? Yes, and I'm not going to name-drop. Even representing those with fame, the truth is that unless the media is interested it's a wash. I also learned that having a big name at a book launch is more distraction than enhancement for the sale of the product (in this case book). We had Sharon Stone at a book launch once, and you know what happened? The paps showed up, yes! Did it help actual book sales? No! Why? Because everyone was more interested in Sharon Stone as a figure than reviewing the book. I also had numerous celebrity endorsements of my book California Girl Chronicles. Did it help sales? Not that I ever noticed.

So what's the lesson here? Celebrity ... who cares. Keep your promotion focused on the product and the buying public. Can a celebrity endorsement hurt? No, but I wouldn't spend too much time or effort going after it either. If you have a great, fascinating, useful, clever or just riveting product, keep the attention where it belongs. If people are too busy checking out Sharon Stone's dress, they're not buying your book.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The "Work Smarter not Harder" Formula

The work smarter not harder formula is a tough one to figure out. I think it's a balance between a few key areas: team work, responsibility, delegation of the right tasks, and (this is a bonus) passive revenue. The last item (passive revenue) is the entrepreneur's ultimate dream goal: make your product sell itself and bring in constant revenue based on previous work. I am a fan of passive revenue. One of the key things it provides is unexpected income (my kind of bonus).

Breaking down the other areas it works like this:

Team work -- you need a competent team of professionals who know their jobs. They don't need direct supervision that can suck up your management time. The more time you spend managing people resources the less time you have to work as a CEO. The CEO should never be bogged in minutia (what I call small details). The minute you spend too much time on the grains of sands, the less time you have on the beach :) (and that's a semi metaphor), but the beach is the big picture vision. You can't work toward a vision if you don't have one because you're still examining the black grain of sand.

Responsibility -- your team must be solid and responsible individuals. They are self-starters who know how to run their areas without asking permission. Now there are some things where permission is required. You don't want a mutiny either. So a good CEO doesn't disengage (and I've made that mistake). You give just enough responsibility and self-empower your team without taking it too far. Self-empowerment can shift to entitlement, too, and that can be poison to the team and relationship. The minute a staff member feels entitled, trouble lay ahead. Caution to the manager who recognizes entitlement vs. deserving. Entitlement take money from the till and falsely believes, "Why not? I earned it."

Delegation -- know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em. This means you keep what is your job title activities and make sure you delegate. I think of it this way, if I can make more money and bring in more money doing what I'm doing I should not get caught in other activities. I am my company's rainmaker so rain make I shall. 

My last tip: when a red flag is hoisted don't ignore it. I had a situation where a series of activities bothered me. At the time of the events I just thought, "Well, I trust this person it will be okay." It wasn't okay and turned out badly. Don't mistake trying to be a "trusting" boss with just plain mismanagement. My trust stops when questions get raised in my mind. I learned that lesson the hard way. I literally had a nonstop series of activities that went (yes, with my knowledge, but ONLY after the fact, which is NEVER okay) that I kept thinking, "Wow! THAT seems wrong." Acting from a place of trust I didn't act at all. Then it came back to bite me. Trust is a good thing, but when something feels wrong don't ignore it -- be proactive. You don't have to be aggressive just assertive, "You know Jane, I am uncomfortable with that activity. I would prefer you not do that anymore. And if you do it again, you will receive X consequences." Consequences should commensurate with the offense even if it means revoking something or even firing. Don't do what I did -- ignore it and then have it blow up in your face or you get to the point where you blow up! Not good management!!!


Friday, July 18, 2014

Editing, Freedom, Micromanagement and Crazy Control Freaks

I consider myself seven parts writer and three parts editor. The only problem is that five parts of my job is two parts less then I want it to be (and I don't think that makes sense so I must be no-parts math :). I had this great "text" conversation with an associate the other day. I was discussing my company 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com), and I remarked how grateful I am to have this opportunity in life. My quip, "It's better than the alternative. I could be digging ditches." But reality is I have to make money -- and this is a business. Making money is often driven by market demand. If the market demands I publish other people's books and edit all day then I edit all day. I would rather be writing all day. Back to my earlier comment though: I am grateful I get to do what I do regardless.

I also own the company and the freedom inherent in business ownership while not providing nearly enough time to myself does afford the little things. My favorite example, if I need to sleep in because I was up late the night before working, I can do so. I never get an irate call from a "boss" or a stray email from that person that could be questionable. Stray emails with insults were common back in the day. As a responsible adult, there is nothing worse than your boss sending you an insipid request that tells you exactly what to do when to do. I've never needed anybody in my life to tell me what to do and when. Go back and be a kindergarten teacher if you need to micromanage someone.

Speaking of micromanagement since I am rambling, and I need to keep it up for at least one more paragraph. Here is the simple management truth: If you hire the right people in the right jobs, and those people are self-starters and know their jobs, micromanagement isn't necessary. The keys are being self-starters and having knowledge. Training a capable person right is also another important part. Responsible self-starters know how to do their jobs. They don't need validation to do them. They don't need urgent requests or specific drill-down instructions. They know how to start and finish a job -- and they report back later. Most responsible adults are perfectly capable of managing their own jobs. And you'll find a lot of those same adults prefer not to be micromanaged.

But alas in this world there are just plain and simply those control-freaks who can't let go. Even when they have capable workers, they still laud their power and enjoy the illusion of forcing horses to drink. Gulp! I once worked for a gal who couldn't let go. I remember one day, she sat me down and proceeded to map out how she wanted each person in the office to divide their time in half-hour increments throughout the day and how she wanted each of those half-hour increments to be filled. It was the damn scariest "control-freak" moment of my life. I actually watched as she took a dry-erase calendar and mapped out my staff's work lives. I wanted to take the dry erase pen and write on her face, "Are you kidding me?" But my zen side took over ... I quit. LOL Have a great Friday everyone.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

For the sake of argument...

People don't amaze me anymore. I've seen enough in the world not be amazed. I should maybe be pleasantly surprised and delighted, but amazed and in a stupor -- sometimes. Social media is often one of the biggest culprits of said amazement. I love social media. I've met so many people I might not have otherwise met. I've stayed connected to some people I have met and got to know better and thoroughly enjoy. I've enjoy the community support, and it gives me a place to "hang" out much like the water cooler only in a more productive way (via marketing).

At the same time, I've connected with people who are a whole other breed of "folks" -- and sometimes they are odd ducks with different stripes of color I don't get. I'm an old fashioned girl. I am polite, well-mannered, and as my fiancé aptly puts it, "have social skills". I care about people. I try to help them. What I don't understand is the raw nature of social media where hiding behind a computer some people who either a. didn't have manners to begin with or b. feel liberated to do or say anything they please or actually do do or say anything they please.

Here is today's social media case study in why it's important to keep your "day manners". I am on social media to network. I now get roughly 75% of all new business leads and referrals through social media. If you look at my current client list, you would find that roughly 50% of new clients are social media referrals. The other percentage of business comes from past networking and speaking events, referrals and word of mouth. As a result, I take social media very seriously. If you're reading this blog, you should heed my words. Proper management of social media can lead to a terrific revenue stream for your business.

I am not on social media to meet men. I am not on social media to waste time. I am not on social media for idle, unproductive chitchat designed to flirt with me. The absolute worst offense and mistake (especially for a male business owner) you can make is to completely disregard and actually argue with me when I politely inform you to keep your discussions and discourse with me on my Wall. Asking me the reasons why I prefer to converse socially on my wall and then asking me it several times over and over when I specifically told you I want it on the wall only spells trouble. You've now wasted my precious time on a silly session of what I call three-year-old questions, "Why? Why? Why?" All parents out there are nodding. Sometimes at the end of the fourth why, you say, "Because Mommy said so..." LOL

Why (laugh) does this matter? Because serious social media users who "offend" through ridiculous tactics like the one described above end up "de-friended" as fast as they were "friended". Busy business people don't have time to spend arguing over something as ridiculous as my reason to keep conversations on my Wall.

But since you've asked "why" ... I will tell you the answer ... I am getting married in two weeks. I love my man very much. We're very tight with each other. I don't feel it's appropriate to have private messaging sessions with men. I have no reason to have "private" messaging conversations with men. Unless it's business I don't want to hear from you. So when I ask you to keep it out in the open and on my wall, it's because in my opinion it's appropriate business and it's respectful to my husband-to-be. Kirk would never scrutinize my messaging, but that's not the point -- he shouldn't have to scrutinize a thing. I know I would not appreciate it if he were messaging a woman privately. I would wonder "why" (LOL). It's a do-unto-others world -- if I don't want it done to me I should not do it to others.

Now ... I should not have to explain or answer that questions (I just did anyway). And when I gently say "keep it on my wall" an argument should not ensue. I am not obligated to explain my reasons. And if you can't respect my reasons, then expect the "de-friend" button hitting.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It's All Right to be Profitable

In my "throw myself on the funeral pyre of martyrdom," I had an epiphany. I am generous to the point I found that I was often taken advantage of. No realizing or necessarily discerning the difference between helping, being taken advantage of, or just plain being robbed LOL ... I set myself into an unproductive mindset. Always "other" focused and concerned with client needs vs. my own needs, I began to see an erosion in profits, and I started to struggle. Blame part of it on the economy, part of it marketplace competition, and part of it on -- me.

I recently was invited to work on a project that once launched would be a tremendous profit center. I immediately felt "profit guilt pangs": what gave me the right to create such a profitable business model? Why should I make that much money? Anyone out there hearing this and realizing they suffer from "profit guilt pangs"? Doesn't this make me greedy? I had a whole litany of thoughts like these trailing behind me.

All of a sudden, I woke up. What was I thinking? This kind of project wouldn't be possible if it weren't for all of the hard work, investment, and resources devoted to building the company and infrastructure to support it. Why in the world was I devaluing all of that and putting myself through such a head trip? Why was it wrong of me to think that to actually have the company to create the success this made me, what? Greedy? Out for myself? Ding-dong, self-awareness alert!

I realized I had turned into one of those people who gets in her own way. What is the definition of greed? Let's look it up: intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food. Now the real question, is it "greedy" to build up a company and be able to be successful, pay people more money who work for you? Be able to offer more to current customers? Enjoy some of the fruits of my labors? Pay down the business debt? And even hire more people down the road? OR would it be greedy to profit, keep the money, buy a bunch of material stuff, and generally spend all the profits on myself? 

The real point ... it doesn't make you greedy to work hard and be able to be successful by virtue of the hard work. It doesn't make you greedy to value your skills and what you have to offer. It doesn't make you greedy to make your life better and those lives of the people who work for you better, too. AND this mindset is the more productive, successful mindset I need to grow my business. The other "stinking" thinking was inherently based on flawed logic and (I'll admit it) a somewhat negative belief system. 

And if you've read this and nodded then it's time for you to change your mindset, too.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Do as I Do!

I have a personal belief that if you're going to position yourself as a subject matter expert on a topic then you might want to set an excellent example in regards to what you're talking about. This premise applies to your professionalism and field of expertise, too.

I recently posted a Facebook statement that went like this: it's risky to live in a glass house and throw stones. What did I mean by that concept? The real statement is "those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." I switched it up to emphasize the risk involved of shattering one's house when involved in the proverbial stone toss.

I'm sure you're all now wondering where those two paragraphs are supposed to lead. Now I'm going to story tell so you understand the professional meaning behind these ideas. I've seen this a lot in those who position themselves in the self-help or counseling industries. I happen to know several people who work in these industries. I've often brought this up, and a post on social media triggered the thought. This professional who does some kind of self-help books, is very single, and even someone who might be labeled as not having good social skills posted this article that offered relationship advice. What I found ironic is this individual from what I've seen has never had an actual relationship. In fact, he might even be called reclusive.

Do I want to take relationship advice from a reclusive guy who has never had a relationship? Now take this one step further: he wrote a book on the subject. He is outwardly preaching "how to have a good relationship" -- and he's never been in one. I realized probably 90 percent of his readers might not realize he was actually reclusive writer guy who lacked social skills and never dated. I'm sure he's read all about the subject. Maybe he's even gone on a few dates, but his qualifications are spotty when he's never been in an actual relationship -- married or otherwise.

My other least favorite expert are the marriage and family counselors whose personal lives look blighted by failure and loss. It's close to the writer guy! Multiple failed marriages and relationships and this is the person who has positioned him- or herself to advise others on the subject. Now most counselors don't tell people their own lives might be slightly messy. I usually hear about the behind-the-scenes messiness through the grapevine of networking. But I have to scratch my head. Why do I want advice from someone whose own glass house has a lot cracks in the walls and is nearly shattering?

I've heard lots of arguments (almost always from those who are in this position) that their advice and guidance is valid. They are trained professionals, and they can be unbiased. I don't agree. Trained or not if you can't practically apply what you're preaching to make your own life better then you are not the person I want to seek advice from. Someone who has never had a successful relationship or marriage, in my opinion, has obviously not used their own suggested tools, strategies or advice. Someone's whose spouse abuses them is in no position to tell someone else, "Don't be abused..."

What I do WANT is advice from someone's whose lives and professional businesses are shining lights of wonderful examples. The man or woman who has succeeded in having a loving relationship (not just for a couple of years), but over the long term -- that is who I want to hear from. The man or woman whose business has made a million dollars -- that is the person who I want to know how. A man or woman who writes a book or offers counseling to others while not managing to make their own lives an example to follow should not advise others. And if your own life isn't an example to follow, pick another subject to write a book or sell a business model. Authentic guidance and leadership from people who really walk their own talk is way more beneficial than a lot of so-called "training" from someone who needs to right their situations before dolling out opinions and guidance. Remember the ole "do as I say not as I do"? I like, "do as I do" way, way better.


Monday, July 14, 2014

True Blood, Episode 4: Death is the Not the End

Well! Finally something to get excited about -- Eric and Sookie reunited in the Season 7. I bet over at MyFutureLover on YouTube the videographer had a party LOL. She finally had a reason to "Ship Sookie and Eric" after like three seasons. Let's face it boys and girls, vampire fans ... Eric and Sookie as played by the wonderful Alexander Skarsgard and Anna Paquin have all the chemistry. The tenderness and connection between these two was evident. You don't feel the same sparks when Sookie and Bill are together -- sorry you just don't feel it. I don't care if they're married in real life. They don't ignite the screen the way Eric and Sookie do. It was the first time in many episodes you were able to see the real love beneath the surface as they had thrown these two characters in separate directions for quite some time. Now we have Eric on the verge of death with Hep V, and with the season winding to a close, I'm not thinking anything wonderful will happen here since it's True Blood and famous for killing off the cast.

The other sweet scene came when Arleen, near death, saw her beloved Terry. Sookie could see it, too. It was something the love and sweetness, and Terry was just smiling so brightly at his Arleen. It melted hearts and reminded you those two also had wonderful chemistry on the show. Jessica's guilt trip was a bit banal and melodramatic, and we could have with less time spent "convincing" her to eat. And Alcide's death was sudden and anti-climatic for such a major character. The whole love story with Sookie was about as "hot" as lukewarm soup. But you have to love Pam having stolen Ginger's idea to create Fangtasia -- that was funny and priceless. And then Ginger in frumpy clothes and then later with blue stripes in her somewhat blond hair -- very funny and apt. You have to love scream-queen Ginger.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Social Media: Today's Winning Marketing Tool

The last six months roughly 80 percent of my new business leads are coming from social media (Facebook). I began by accepting "friends" who were connected to  my other friends. I personally friended about 200 people way back in 2009. Since then I have build up 3700 connections off the 200 base. I get about 5-10 friend requests per day. I accept most, but if it's a foreigner with no connections I avoid those ones. A lot of those men only want a "bride catalog" and no way and no thank you.

It was a snowball effect in terms of the payoff. At first, I received the occasional query. Now I get anywhere from 1-2 solid leads from Facebook. I also get general questions from people who just need help. So what do you need to know about why I am getting steady interest? Here are my social media tips:

Be Authentic. People like to work with people they like. So whatever you're posting let it reflect your personality and the real you. Don't try to manipulate your image in a way that is disingenuous.

Be Authentic but Mind Your Boundaries. The entire world doesn't need to know your private life. Posting pictures of your body or commenting on your own body or even on other people's bodies is off-limits and in poor taste. Fighting with your friends or spouse online -- off-limits. Rude behavior and hateful comments -- off-limits. When people see that stuff they immediately get uncomfortable and discomfort doesn't attract business.

Just too strange. There is something to said about "vanilla" or being middle-of-the-road when it comes to your business. One extreme to the other can hurt business and destroy your brand image. If something pushes the bounds of good taste, ask yourself if you would show your mother. If the answer is "no" then don't post it.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What Makes a Page-Turner

The big revelation in storytelling ... pacing! How you pace your story can either absorb your readers or bore them. It's easier to define pacing when it comes to a screenplay. In a screenplay you have a short space to write either dialog or action. You also have to write these things in the average of 120 pages. The action cannot be bogged in minutia. You set the scene simply and quickly and move on. In books, you have a much wider berth. But if you want to keep the story moving and well paced then don't get bogged down in narrative or exposition. Yes, you do want to paint the scene with the right colors but you don't want to describe every last detail down to the color of the kitchen sink unless that is somehow important to the story.

How can you pace your book?
  • Move the dialog along and don't have random discussions about things that don't belong in the story or reveal anything interesting about your characters that the audience needs to know.
  • Keep the scenes just that scenes. Paint the picture and then leave that canvas. You don't have to over-describe a scene. You want a balance of details to actions.
  • Keep it moving from one scene to the next scene. Don't let it got bogged down. 
  • Don't make every character's dialog a monologue. People don't talk in monologues.
If you're ready to publish your book, but want professional input on how to improve your book and make it better, please contact 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com) about our book coaching services at 916-300-8012. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Words of Wisdom from the Workaholic

The pressure I put on myself can't be any harder than the pressure I ... put on myself. Stand up and confess, "I, Michelle am a workaholic." Truth is I started my business not to have to work myself into the ground to meet other people's demands. Over time, I made the great discovery, I still have to meet other people's demands (clients). The saying "work smarter not harder" is the applicable tool to keep life in balance. Problem is economics + delegation are conflicting at the moment.

So sharp manager that I am I need to "noodle" some solutions to the scale tipped the wrong way. Ever find yourself stuck in this quagmire? I bet if you're a business owner reading this blog you know what I'm talking about. Here are some things to think about:

Guilt is not an excuse to give 10 times more than you get in payments. If you're being paid to do a job do the job to the best of your abilities. But you are not obligated just because you have a client making certain demands to give him/her 10 times what the contract stipulates. There is a point where it's pure insanity. And this is where ...

Find a new client comes into play. Any clients whose expectations are too much for what you're being paid to do can be replaced. Just like in romance there are plenty of fish ... there are plenty of clients. I adopted the word "next" a long time ago. Now you don't want to be capricious about it. But clients whose demands consume your day and they're not paying enough to consume your day need to be evaluated. You could easily find a new client whose demands are fair along with fair payment. In that respect, your at least making money while you're working harder vs. smarter.

Take the pressure off! Turn the cooker off! If you're anything like me you are your own worst critic. You don't know when to quit throwing yourself on the funeral pyre. Be kind to yourself. All you can do is all you can do. When I get in stress mode, I try to remind myself "one step at a time" and focus on the step. Don't look too far out ahead. Just keep your focus on the task at hand.

Careful planning also prevents undo stress. Plan ahead but don't look too far ahead either. You should have a precise plan in place and then execute it. If you've thought it all out then you'll be able to get to your goal without much fuss. Now things happen, and you should (if you planned well enough) be able to make adjustments.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Do Not do these Social Media Promotions

What is social media etiquette when it comes to marketing your business in this growing area of community connection? We don't have a rule book on what is appropriate, but we do have common sense and a pretty good idea of what we don't like to see done. Here are some basic "rules" when it comes to using your social media "ecosystem" to promote business and not lose "friends":

Marketing Promo Shared or Tagged on My Wall -- Big No, No! I call this "hijacking" another person's social media connections. When you hijack another person's wall for your promotional purposes and post what is essentially a billboard on his or her wall you run the risk of being "de-friended". I find it very offensive when someone posts what is nothing more than an advertisement on my wall. Now... there are exceptions:
  • The person is someone I really do know and talk to either in-person or on social media. This real friend hijacks my wall for his or her event, and it's okay with me. Notice I said "event" and not one big, gigantic postcard advertisement. I don't mind helping others promote an event to invite through my wall my friends. I do mind this person just advertising products. My wall is not your advertising space.
If you're not my "friend" and we've never even talked to each other, please do not share your events or anything else on my wall. I don't like people "using" my social media community. I'm sure my community appreciates not being used.  I have many connections of people I've allowed into my social media world because they were connected to a lot of people I know. I use social media to build business. I don't have a problem not actually knowing a "friend" but I do have a problem with a "friend" thinking my hard-won social media community is there for them to pick off. It's not cool.

Monday, July 7, 2014

True Blood, Final Season, Episode 3: Fire in the Hole

Where are we going with this? Is the idea to kill off every character before the final episode? I'm beginning to think so. (Spoiler Alert) The demise of Alcide was anti-climatic and downright boring. Alcide, our beloved burly werewolf, finally met his end with a few quick gunshots and then bam! Dead! Well, except for one brief moment of Sookie having learned her lesson about sanctioning the creation of new vampires. The very first episode saw the demise of long-time character Tara who went through so much only to end up dead after all. Other long-time characters are biting it, too.

What did we learn in this episode? Alcide loved Sookie more -- and that made her feel bad. Okay ... Sam had a gay vampire escort who got immediately shot down (we didn't have any investment anyway) so all right. Eric has Hep V and was ready (a la Godric) to just go on his 1,000-year-old way. Note: How many times do we have to see the retread scene of Pam begging Eric not to die? She loves him! Blah, blah, blah ... seriously writers you can't find any fresh material? Really? Then we find out about some love story with some French girl named Sylvie we don't care about who died because of Eric. He cites Sylvie on his list of demons and loves. Another non-emotional investment for the audience. What do we care about some miscellaneous lover we've never been introduced to named Sylvie? Nothing!

This episode was loaded with a lot of "who-cares" characters. When Ms. Thortonberry died we had a greater emotional investment in her than we did any of the others (not that she was particularly likeable). Come on True Blood! The final season is dying a slow, confusing and not-very-well-written true death and dragging us along with it.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Things I love or don't like ...

As is the case in life, we have things we like and we don't like ... I have a very balanced list designed to either make you nod or write me a protest letter. Here it goes ...

Arrogance + Ignorance = :(--I don't like arrogance not in the least. Arrogant people think they know everything, and it almost seems they don't know anything. Arrogant people try to tell me things that my educated mind refutes, but also they stand on it like it's a solid platform. I especially dislike arrogant people whose opinion about something like my profession that I do know backward and forward turns into absolute truth (for them) and they seem to know so much they will take it upon themselves to argue and argue and argue. Well, truth is ... I won't engage so that's a waste of time anyway.

Humble, Open Willing--I DO like humble people. Humility goes a long way toward success and an open willingness to learn and understand that by God's grace, "No, you don't know everything." You show me someone who actually knows everything with no space to grow and learn, and we'll just call them divine. Humility produces greatness. It produces an open, eager mind. Humble is way more attractive, interesting and easy to be around.

Boundless, Positive Energy--have you ever been around someone who always smiles, greets you with enthusiasm, and acts so positive you just want to literally drink them in? I love positivity. I love people who see the glass as not only half-full but also pass me another half-full glass (notice I didn't say overflowing). These people have a kind word for everyone, and they see only the best in those around them. Positive, radiant people glow with enthusiasm, and they're so much easier to be around. They don't complain about or put others down. Positive people are refreshing!

I don't like clichés and platitudes--pats on the back and pedestrian words of the commonly used phrase drives me up the wall (LOL ... get it). Flat as a board, sweet as honey, swift as the wind, beauty is skin deep, blah, blah, blah! New or fresh phrases instead of retread trite! Stand up boys and girls and sing it, "Please don't use clichés they are not manta rays" LOL ... well, okay at least it's fresh -- maybe doesn't make sense though. My rule on the use of the overused: twist it up, make it yours, and more importantly make it interesting. Flat as the cement floor in flat-land, sweet as the cupcake in the sweet shop, swift as the tornado that roared through Kansas, beauty is in the eye ... (no wait LOL) ... beauty is how you define it or see it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Nobody wants to hear this about self-publishing "tools"

It's not easy at a table full of authors to have to state the most unpleasant reality of self-publishing tools like Lulu or Lightspeed or even Smashwords or Createspace. No one wants to hear it. They especially don't want to hear it with their self-published, print-on-demand book in their hands. Now you might construe my points as self-promoting, but I'm being honest and blunt, it is what is ...

First and foremost, those "tools" ARE NOT publishers. They do not provide professional editing, proofing (yes, proofing is a whole other process), graphic design, or even truly "publish" your book.

Second (and people especially don't want to hear this one), I can tell a self-published book just at a glance. I don't have to scrutinize or even analyze. Lulu looks a certain way as do all of the others.

Third, unpleasant truth: if I can tell it's a self-published, print-on-demand book within seconds, the critics (who have equally critical and experienced eyes) can too. Your book will come across their desks (if it even gets that far) and be passed over just as quickly.

Authors who don't care about those detractors and have specific reasons for using those services, can nod and move on. Authors who are simply misguided and don't understand those realities should not get angry with the messenger. In fact, they should be glad someone said something who has no vested interest in whether or not feelings got hurt, because I just said something they didn't want to hear. If you just wanted an inexpensive "tool" to publish your book doesn't mean my points are nullified and lack merit.

I can't wave a wand and change industry perception -- and there are good reasons for that perception in a market glutted by the "anyone-can-publish-a-book" mentality. The people who suffer on the other end are those who put down valuable dollars only to get books riddled with mistakes, poorly written, and not vetted for quality in any way, shape or form. And for me as a true professional and writer, I found that mentality disrespectful to my profession and pretty insulting. It's like a doctor being told, "Hey, anyone can treat me. Your MD means nothing."