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Black cat riddles for your Halloween funnybone

I don’t know about you, but this sure hasn’t been a fun week for my family. And I’m hearing the same from friends. Something in the air?

At any rate, this is just a little light post with goofy literary cat riddles (OK, and one math riddle) to bring some levity to your Halloween!

Halloween jokes

If you’re trick-or-treating tonight, have fun and be safe out there! But don’t max out on sugar. It tastes great, but the more I learn about what it does to our bodies, the harder I am working to cut my own cravings for the stuff!

Happy Halloweenie!

Laura (aka, Marcie Brock)

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 50+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book Logo w backgroundlovers’ event. Several first-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 200 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at HolidayAuthorEvent.com.

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Celebrating other authors’ successes fuels our own

Originally ran on Sunday, October 26, 2014.

I learned to read fairly early – at age 3-and-a-half or 4 – not because I was particularly precocious, but because I wanted to be able to read the Sunday comics on my own. So I demanded that my dad teach me how to read. Over the years, as the comics have waned in column inches and volume in daily newspapers, my interest in them has simultaneously declined. No longer the first thing I reach for, days can go by without my even seeing a comic strip.

Yesterday, however, I noticed and read the color comics, and this Pearls Before Swine strip caught my attention because it so well captures the human condition – including the attitude of many authors. I’m sure neuroscientists and sociologists and psychologists have studied what it is about human nature that so routinely causes envy rather than celebration when we hear of someone else’s success. And if it’s someone in our field (e.g., a fellow novelist, business coach, financial advisor, or guitar instructor), our envy level is likely to go off the chart!

It’s an abundant universe – someone else’s success does not mean my failure – yet we so often view it that way.

high tides

Sometimes aphorisms have their place, and this is certainly one such situation. Even if it may not feel like it in the immediate moment, your fellow author’s self-publishing success is a good thing for you! And it would be much better for you if you could celebrate with him or her than let the green monster consume you.

Reasons to celebrate your fellow author’s success

  • Envy is one of the surest causes of self-sabotage, so find a way to be genuinely happy for your successful author friends.
  • Being less than happy for others who are succeeding – particularly in the area where you want so badly to do well – inhibits your own chances for success. When you see another person’s win as a success for you, you open the door to hope for your own success.
  • Celebrating with others multiplies your opportunities to rejoice. When you are able to congratulate your fellow authors on their successes, you invite them to be willing to celebrate when your book does well.
  • When you’re truly happy for others, they are more likely to be truly happy for you. But real relationships invite the sharing of the highs and the lows. You want to develop the habit of empathizing when things are down and rejoicing in the good times.
  • The law of attraction teaches us that we manifest that which we focus on – and what we resist persists. So if we resist others’ happiness at the expense of our own, we’re likely to be chasing our own happiness while never really fulfilling it.

But let’s say that  you’ve been trying everything and nothing you’re doing to market your book seems to be making any difference. In spite of your  best effort, you’re still struggling, and the last thing you can do is be happy for your friend who just got picked up by a sizable publisher. Here are a few things you can do to lift yourself out of your blues so that you can be truly happy for your friend. They’ll take some work, but with effort, you’ll get there.

  1. We’ve mentioned this one before, but it bears repeating in the #1 spot: Keep a gratitude journalRecording the things for which you are grateful on a daily basis will help you stay focused on the good stuff and enable you to shrug off any emotion that resembles envy.
  2. Slow down and meditate. When the jealousy monster threatens to rear its head, take a moment to take a breath. Slow down. Stop. Meditate. Getting clear about the direction you want your emotions to take will enable you to put the envy to bed, if only momentarily.
  3. Recognize that positive emotions are as contagious as the negative ones. Read the next sentence out loud and with as much gusto as you can muster: BOY, AM I ENTHUSIASTIC! Read it aloud again, this time like you mean it. Say it one more time, with a big smile on your face. I obviously can’t see you, but I’m pretty sure that if you did the little exercise above, you feel better now than before you began reading this post. You have the power to propel positive emotions to the forefront, so why not use it?
  4. Look for opportunities to celebrate someone else’s success. This may involve gritting your teeth or even facing the envy and doing it anyway. Send a congratulations note. Blog about your friend’s success. Buy an extra copy of their book. If you can find a way to celebrate in spite of the awkward feelings, you’ll get the goodwill flowing, meaning that it will soon be flowing right back to you.
success of another

Use this mantra whenever the envy threatens to throw you off course.

Here’s to celebrating your fellow authors’ success!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 50+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book Logo w backgroundlovers’ event. Several first-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 200 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at HolidayAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

SUNDAY INSPIRATIONS: My day-to-day judgments affect my characters

Sunday Inspirations. Send us your favorite quote, image, poem, idea … anything that has been helpful or inspirational to your writing process. If we love it, we may use it as is, or take the inspiration and modify it in some way. Give us a link to your website or blog and we’ll be sure to give you credit! Email inspiration@writemarketdesign.com or post your suggestion in the comment section below!

Here’s today’s inspiration: “When I allow my petty, day-to-day judgments to get in the way of my writing clearly, I find that my fictional characters get off track from what they really need, want to say and do so that the reader may successfully find his/her own path to sustainable solutions.”

K-lee Starland

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 50+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book Logo w backgroundlovers’ event. Several first-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 200 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at HolidayAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

 

Use a naming workshop to find the title of your next book

Are you having trouble coming up with the perfect title for your next book? Maybe it’s time to leverage the Power of the Group!

group smart

I just began a blog series for a group blog written by authors from the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup. The goal of the blog is to give exposure to members of our group by encouraging regular blogs at monthly intervals. No one has to write more than one post per month, yet we all share in the marketing and resulting attention to the blog and our books. I decided that rather than write on random topics for my monthly contributions, I would work around a singular topic: The Power of the Group.

Our Meetup is proof that the group works, and I invite you to read that blog and the posts to come on this topic.

I came across an excellent post this morning from MarketingProfs, one of the best online marketing resources I know of. The post is titled “10 Steps to a Successful Naming Workshop,” and my immediate first thought was how useful this might be when it came to helping authors find great book titles.

I highly encourage you to read the whole post, but here are the 10 steps, without any explanation:

1. Get Everyone Together in a Room

2. Start With a Brain  Dump

3. The Free-Association Exercise

4. The Scrabble Exercise

5. The Blockbuster Exercise

6. The Thesaurus Exercise

7. The Role-Play Exercise

8. Taste It, Touch It, Smell It

9. Quick Pick-Me-Up

10. Put a Shortlist Together

Why would it be advantageous to get a group together to help you name your book? Here are several reasons I can think of, off the top of my head:
  • It will take the pressure off you.
  • The group dynamic brings out more ideas than you could come up with on your own.
  • It’s the opportunity to bring together diverse thinkers – not just your typical readers or people from your industry.
  • It’s a great way to help build buzz. Who wouldn’t want to spread the word about a book they had a hand in titling?
  • You can offer participation as a perk for your crowdfunding campaign.
There is vast power inside a well-formed group. As Seth Godin puts it:
A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.
― Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

Please let us know in the comments section if you’ve seen the group dynamic work to help you achieve success with your book!

Here’s to a the power of the group!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 50+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book Logo w backgroundlovers’ event. Several first-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 200 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at HolidayAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

 

 

How to make sure your card doesn’t wind up in THIS pile

little piles of money

Do you have a box that looks like this? Business cards you’ve collected over the weeks, months, or years that have yet to be recorded, added to your mailing list, or followed up upon? Perhaps the cards you’ve collected are a bit less organized. How many business cards and little bits of paper with the contact info from interesting people you’ve met in your travels do you have in piles on your desk, in your wallet, and strewn throughout your purse or briefcase? As my financial advisor friend Todd Smith once pointed out, would you leave little piles of money lying about? That’s what you’re doing when you don’t follow up and have a way to connect with people regularly.

In October 2011, we wrote a post about building your your email list. Here are some of the other important questions we posed in that post:

  • How big is your list?
  • How accurate is your list? Are the names and addresses current, or do half of them kick back as undeliverable?
  • How niched is your list? Is your list made up of everyone you have ever met, or do you have it categorized so that you can send marketing messages about your book to the people who will actually want to buy it?
  • How regularly do you update your list? How often do you toss the bad addresses and add new ones?
  • Do you have your list organized into an A-B-C system? A indicates the individuals who have expressed direct interest in your book or subject matter. B are the people with whom you have a personal connection, but who may not have a direct interest in your book or industry. C are those folks who are one step from elimination. You met them, but don’t remember where, and just happen to have their card in your pile.
  • How often do you contact your list?
  • How many different ways do you connect with your list? If you’re relying only on e-mail, you’re missing a significant opportunity to impact your list. But, in order to be able to send the very effective occasional greeting card (or contact them by other channels), you will need to collect more than just their e-mail address.

Following that reminder, my major question to you is:

How do you keep your card from staying out of such a pile?

The answer, quite simply, is: Be the first to follow up. Trust me, it works! I attended a networking luncheon yesterday, just a few days after sending out my newsletter. Out of 40 or so women there – not all of whom are on my mailing list – three approached me and told me they appreciate my newsletter, two asked me about the process of writing a book, and one of those indicated she may  be ready to begin working with me after the first of the year. All were, at one point, strangers whose cards I had to add to my list.

I will admit that the cards in the picture at the top of this post belong to yours truly. So just know, this has been an evolving process for me. I’m much better at follow up now than I used to be! Guess when I collected those cards? Would you believe it was 2009?

The good news for you is that it’s never too late to follow up. I found in my research of the individuals belonging to these cards that many of them have changed jobs, careers, or moved away from Phoenix. But I can still find – and connect with – most of them via LinkedIn. So maybe they never made it to my mailing list. Email is a good way but not the only way to connect with people.

Ways you can follow up:

  • email
  • phone call
  • video
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • snail mail

Some of the success of following up is in knowing how best to reach out to specific people. That may be a hit-or-miss process, unless you got to know the person pretty well on the first contact. But the most important thing is having a process at all. Develop one, and use it! I guarantee it will make all the difference in your success.

Here’s to a staying out of the random box of cards!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 50+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book Logo w backgroundlovers’ event. Several first-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 200 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at HolidayAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

 

 

The time is ripe for a REAL competitor to Amazon

If  you’re in the publishing industry – even as a self-publisher – you’d be foolish to ignore the coming wave of eBooks. But it’s far too soon to speak of the demise of printed books. Nevertheless, this is an interesting piece from the Irish Times about shifts in the industry.

up market

Personally, I agree with Donna Tartt, Stephen King, and Malcolm Gladwell that Amazon does more to harm authors – and books – than it does to preserve the integrity of the publishing arena. Jeff Bezos makes no secret of the fact that he is in it for the money, and he’s counting on people to keep buying based on price and convenience. I wouldn’t argue that point, but here are two other things to consider:

(1) The consumer market is broad. In spite of all the damage it has done (and continues to do) to our economy and the American middle class, Walmart continues to attract loyal customers who wouldn’t dream of shopping elsewhere – largely because of the store’s willingness to be the “low price leader.” But when it comes to marketing most goods and services, being the low-price leader is not usually a good way to compete. Walmart succeeds because they have such a large market share. But guess who’s still in business, too? Lord & Taylor, Sachs, Nordstrom and lots of other up-market retailers. Likewise, there are consumers out there who are willing to pay more to support authors who are producing high-quality books!

(2) Circumstances are ripe for another smaller player (or several others) to come in and take a significant share of the online book market. Whether you’re a beer drinker or not, chances are you’ve heard of the Samuel Adams brand. Did you know that Sam Adams has just 1 PERCENT of the beer market? As I continue to speak and work and consult in the self-publishing field, I’m shifting my purchases and promotions to Powell’s Books and Barnes & Noble as my own small way of working to level the playing field even slightly. We DON’T HAVE TO give all our business to Amazon. We’ve just become conditioned to do so.

That said, Amazon is right now still a huge player, and self-publishers who ignore it may do so to their peril. But tread lightly, and not without being fully informed! READ all the fine print before listing your book with Amazon or signing up for KDP Select. And have a fallback plan; don’t put all your publishing eggs in the Amazon basket. This is a case where the fox most definitely rules the proverbial chicken coop.

Here’s to a being an informed self-publisher and consumer!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 50+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book Logo w backgroundlovers’ event. Several first-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 200 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at HolidayAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

 

 

SUNDAY INSPIRATIONS: If proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go

Sunday Inspirations. Send us your favorite quote, image, poem, idea … anything that has been helpful or inspirational to your writing process. If we love it, we may use it as is, or take the inspiration and modify it in some way. Give us a link to your website or blog and we’ll be sure to give you credit! Email inspiration@writemarketdesign.com or post your suggestion in the comment section below!

Here’s today’s inspiration: “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”

Elmore Leonard

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 50+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book Logo w backgroundlovers’ event. Several first-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 200 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at HolidayAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

 

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