Archive for May, 2012

Damn, that’s a lot of words!

Well, it was an amazing personal accomplishment, but I not only finished the 2012 WordCount Blogathon – I completed it back to back with the Ultimate Blog Challenge, for 58 straight days of blogging. And then we begin the Author Blog Challenge on June 2nd. Whew – take a breath.

And tomorrow, we rest.

In the interest of completion, here are the number breakdowns for my participation in the May 2012 WordCount Blogathon:

WORDS WRITTEN. OK, so they’re not NaNoWriMo
numbers, but it’s a pretty good figure for one month of blogging,
making for an average of 848 words per day.


PAGE VIEWS. That’s our best month yet,
beating out the aberration that occurred with the record
892 hits for our International Women’s Day post.


COMMENTS. Of course, that number includes
my responses, too. Some of our readers have great
ideas – so make sure to read the comments and add your own!


IMAGES. We use at least one image with every post –
obviously some, like this one, get many more than that.




LIKES. We love our fans!!


GUEST POSTS. By Yael Grauer about watching your
Ps and Qs when pitching and Judith Cassis about
her experience working with an efficiency consultant.


HAIKU. Yeppers. We wrote one. Here it is, in all its 17-syllable glory:

To sell books I work

Branding and marketing them

Won’t you buy one, please?


The only stat unaccounted for is links – how many we included in our posts, how many of those were clicked, and how  many incoming links we received. But we don’t have all nigh to get this wrapped up, so you’ll have to just go with our best guess: plenty of links.

Thanks for playing with us. Thanks to Michelle and all her staff/volunteers for facilitating the Blogathon! Best of luck to all the participants. If you’re up for another one soon, come check out the Author Blog Challenge. It starts Saturday!




We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!


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All about the alliteration…

As I was musing over ideas for today’s post, I started doodling and making notes about the random thoughts that popped into my head. As it turns out, three of those thoughts began with the letter P: planning, polarizing, and paying. So it doesn’t take a cryptographer to figure out how the rest of the post unfolded.

The thing is, there is power in word play. As Simon Smith notes in a post for Right Spot Media:

To some, the connection between a strong brand and the repetition of sounds might seem farfetched. But researchers have studied the impact of alliteration and found that it may indeed aid memorability. In fact, studies have shown that alliteration is such a powerful mnemonic that providing students with alliterative sentences can help them more easily learn a new language.

Consider some very popular name brands:

Best Buy

Dunkin’ Donuts

Krispy Kreme



Weight Watchers

Phillip Davis of SmallBusinessDelivered.com notes the efficacy of alliteration in branding small companies, as well:

We made use of this technique with one of our clients: Park Place Garage. Not only did the name have alliteration with the two Ps, but it also contained a double entendre (Park Place is both a place to park a car and a name associated with high end real estate).

So here’s my stab at an alliterative alphabet of writing- and marketing-related phrases. Some are even whole sentences unto themselves! One thing to note: alliterative sounds needn’t all contain the same letters. Also, you can carry the alliteration through internal syllables.

Authentic authors aspire to achieve astute audiences.

Bountiful branding builds your business.

Conscious consistent connection creates continuing contacts.

Drip e-mail develops dedicated devotees.

Editing enhances your exposition.

Funky freelancers fulfill fantasy niches.

Good graphics generate great get-up-and-go.

Hot headlines hit hard.

Internet interest is increasing by the hour.

Journalists justify juggling jewels and junk.

Clever keywords capture knowledgeable niches.

LinkedIn allows a legitimate look at one’s work life.

Messaging makes media move.

No longer neophytes, Larsson fans await the next new novel, unaware there will be no more.

Once you overcome the obstacles, Outlook offers many opportunities to achieve your e-mail objectives.

A promising platform is the first step to prestige.

Quixotic quips … quick questions … quite the quandary.

Readers are ready to reel in this old writer’s ruminations.

Sentence structure will set your essay to sink or swim.

Trendy taglines transform text without trickery.

Once uniquely useful, Facebook has become ubiquitous and unoriginal.

Vocal variety creates vibrancy.

WordPress wizards write regularly.

eXcellent designers employ eXtreme devices.

Youthful yearning is a customary storyline in YA fiction.

Zippy zingers zap the readerz’ eyeballz.

OK, tell me what you really think. At least I had fun with it! If you decide to try it yourself and come up with anything really outstanding, please come back and share it with us in the comment section below!

Happy alliterating –



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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Comments from a Skype convert

It’s official – I’m no longer a Skype virgin. I suppose technically I wasn’t really a virgin anyway, as I’d seen Skype calls in action before and participated in a family call with my husband’s niece who lives in New York City. But there’s something very different about a business call and a “chat” with an uninterested 2-and-a-half-year-old.

I realize that like other things (MP3s and childbirth come to mind), I’m not the first to discover and marvel at something that’s new to me but which others have been doing for quite some time. (Note: There were 4 MILLION other users online when I was on my call.) However, all I can do is share from my limited personal lens.

I assume I’m also not the only one who watched those TV shows as a kid and one day imagined being able to see the person on the other end of the phone, rather than just listen to them. We all thought it would be so cool. Then the technology actually arrived, and I was no early adopter. I frankly didn’t get the appeal. Sure, I don’t necessarily have to leave my house to have that meeting, but I still have to pay attention that the shirt I’m wearing doesn’t have mustard stains on it and that I don’t have bed head.

So, I delayed becoming a Skyper. People would ask about it and I’d put them off. I had the camera and software installed on my computer, but we’d either do old-fashioned phone calls, the much more labor intensive online video conferencing, or meet in person. Until yesterday.

My client Maria, rather to my annoyance, was persistent in her desire for this Skype call. It was only once we connected and she said, “I prefer this way to just using the phone because it’s much more intimate and personal,” that I finally understood.

It’s also useful! Neither of had to scan and save and send – or drive 20+ miles to meet in the middle – for her to show me some images she’s considering for an upcoming presentation. She just held the pictures up to the camera and I got the full impact there and then.

My first foray into this free video conference service wasn’t without a hitch, however. Maria wasn’t able to hear me, so we used our phones while we connected visually via Skype. I found out later it was a simple setting issue on my end – now that it’s repaired, our next Skype adventure will likely be easier and even more fruitful.

Please don’t mistake me. I’m not a proselytizer or Skype missionary – just someone who’s had a change of heart and thought you might want to reconsider it if you’d been avoiding this new technology, as I did for so long.

Happy Skyping!



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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Word clouds may be overused, but they still have their place

Word clouds are graphic word pictures you can use to map or emphasize a cluster of words for a variety of purposes. WordPress offers a word cloud widget that shows off your most frequently used tags/keywords, the most often used words appearing largest in the cloud.

Originating in the early 90s, there are three main types of word clouds, which are distinguished by their meanings, rather than appearance.In the first type, one tag appears for the frequency of each item. In the second type, global tag clouds indicate frequencies that are aggregated across all items and users. In the third type, the cloud contains categories, with the size of each tag indicating the number of subcategories.

Not everyone is a fan. Jacob Harris of the Neiman Journalism Lab writes in a post titled “Word Clouds Considered Harmful:

For starters, word clouds support only the crudest sorts of textual analysis, much like figuring out a protein by getting a count only of its amino acids. This can be wildly misleading; I created a word cloud of Tea Party feelings about Obama, and the two largest words were implausibly “like” and “policy,” mainly because the importuned word “don’t” was automatically excluded. (Fair enough: Such stopwords would otherwise dominate the word clouds.) A phrase or thematic analysis would reach more accurate conclusions. When looking at the word cloud of the War Logs, does the equal sizing of the words “car” and “blast” indicate a large number of reports about car bombs or just many reports about cars or explosions? How do I compare the relative frequency of lesser-used words? Also, doesn’t focusing on the occurrence of specific words instead of concepts or themes miss the fact that different reports about truck bombs might be use the words “truck,” “vehicle,” or even “bongo” (since the Kia Bongo is very popular in Iraq)?

I’m of a mixed mind on the whole word cloud idea. While I believe they have their place (classrooms being, perhaps, the most obvious), they are becoming ubiquitous and overused — much like the Comic Sans and Papyrus fonts.

Who am I to judge, though? Maybe you have an important use for the almighty word cloud. So here’s a quick primer in Wordle.net, a free online tool for crafting word clouds.

  • Visit the site and click on the CREATE link.
  • Insert your terms into the box or enter a link from which you’d like the program to pull words.
  • Note that the system is built for single words only. The only way to include a phrase is by making it AllOneWord.
  • Once you’ve got all your words in the box, click GO.
  • Stylize your word cloud by altering the FONTS, COLORS, or LAYOUT. You do have the option to customize your palette.

Here are a few sample layouts, all using the same words.

Today I was reminded that we often have the biggest challenges with the parent to whom we are most similar. Such was the case with my mom. Our relationship was often turbulent, but my dad was fond of telling me that I got all my creative talents from her. All of that came rushing back as I “touched up” my word cloud. Mom never bought an item of clothing, a picture frame, or a flower arrangement that she didn’t find a way to “improve” as soon as she got it home. For my part, I changed the color and placement of some of the words in my cloud. I also made the term “my book” larger, turned it a bright fuchsia color, and moved it to the very center of the word cloud.

If you think you may have a use for word clouds in your book marketing endeavors, by all means, give it a try.

Happy word clouding!



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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4 books for the VETERANS in your life and the people who love them

Since the start of our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’ve met combat vets – but I have no one in my immediate circle who is a vet or has a vet in their family. Nevertheless, I am ever aware of their sacrifice and the devastating effects of these wars on them – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally. In tribute to our vets and in honor of Memorial Day, I decided to compile a short book list. I didn’t start out with these books in mind (I was actually thinking more along the lines of Flags of Our Fathers), but this is where my research took me, and appropriately so.

Regardless of your position on US involvement in these – or any –wars, I’m thinking we all can agree about one thing: our vets deserve our honor, respect, and the best medical treatment they can get. Though I have not read the books below, they come highly recommended for vets themselves and the people who love them. Each segment contains an excerpt from the book, portion of a review, and shot of the book cover.

Fields of Combat: Understanding PTSD among Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan (The Culture and Politics of Health Care Work)

by Erin P. Finley

In Fields of Combat, Erin P. Finley deftly weaves the experiences of these young men and women who have participated in the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan into a larger fabric of the U.S. military enterprise, including the clinical responses to a health crisis in treatment and prevention of debilitating traumas of war. How Americans, civilian and military alike, respond to these veterans says as much about the mental health of U.S. society as about them.

— Matthew Gutmann, Brown University, coauthor, Breaking Ranks: Iraq Veterans Speak Out Against the War


War and the Soul: Healing Our Nation’s Veterans from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

by Edward Tick

I am a combat vet of the Viet Nam era. I purchased a copy of Dr. Tick’s book WAR AND THE SOUL last week. I can’t begin to express how deeply it affected me as a veteran, a father and as a man. Edward Tick has brought out into the open the essence of the problem with the aftereffects of war. We are of the “don’t talk about it and it will just go away,” generation. I’m referring to the loss or corruption of every mans’ soul as a result of the horrors of war, and the lack of a true warrior class in America as DR. tick describes it. Like no other terror on earth, war is so traumatic that indeed one’s soul may be lost forever. However, it does not have to be that way. We indeed may regain intimacy, trust and a purposeful life if treated as humans with souls, not like men having to be drugged with antidepressants to keep us away and out of public sight.

— Robert Cagle



The War Comes Home: Washington’s Battle against America’s Veterans

by Aaron Glantz

“A breathtaking rebuke to government hypocrisy and an overdue contribution to gaining critical public awareness of this official neglect.”

Publishers Weekly


Once a Warrior, Always a Warrior: Navigating the Transition from Combat to Home — Including Combat Stress, PTSD, and mTBI

by Charles W. Hoge, MD

“John Denver’s lyrics about coming home to a place you’ve never been before sums up this book. A brilliant guide, and very much needed now.”

—Gordon R. Roberts, Medal of Honor recipient

In sincere thanks to all of our troops –



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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The onus of clear communication is on YOU, the one doing the communicating

More than a dozen years before its demise contributed to America’s recent financial meltdown, I was employed as a Facilities Coordinator at Lehman Brothers. I will make one editorial comment about that: the end result should have come as a surprise to no one who’d set foot within a mile of the Wall Street investment banking firm any time in those 12+ years.

My job was arranging the internal moves of staff, from senior bankers to receptionists. As a rule, if someone gets promoted in investment banking, they get a bigger office. If a new hire comes in, prior people may need to shuffle, depending on the new hire’s position. Suffice to say, we did a LOT of moving.

On a weekly basis, we updated the floorplans so that everyone who needed the information could see where each banker and associated support staff were located. In order to fit the 11 x 17 flooplans into letter-size in boxes with the floor number showing, we folded them as indicated on Diagram A to the right.

One time, I had a temp assisting me with the seemingly simple job of folding said floorplans in said manner. I showed her how to do it, gave her a sample to take back to her desk with her. Imagine my surprise – and frustration – when my temp brought them back to me folded like Diagram B: quartered and with no portion of the printed side showing, making it impossible to see the floor number. Twenty-five sheets wasted because this gal could not follow instructions.

It’s obviously been a long time since that happened, but I’ve never forgotten that incident. I was reminded of it yet again today when I supervised a recruiting event in which volunteers were asked to collect information from passersby. Depending on the circumstances of the person being questioned, they were asked to complete one of three forms. As I was doing data entry to report our results, it became apparent that either my instructions to my volunteers had been faulty, or we were back in that Lehman Brothers scenario all those years ago. Out of the 21 forms I collected at the end of the event, 4 people had completed the wrong forms.

The book marketing – and life – lesson from this: the burden of communicating is on the one delivering the message, not the person receiving it. What does this mean? Better safe than sorry – so confirm EVERYTHING. All those years ago with the temp, I should have asked her to perform the task in front of me, so I knew she understood. Today with my volunteers, I should have asked them to explain back to me what I was asking of them to make sure they fully comprehended my instructions.

YOU must do the same, regarding:

  • When your editor or graphic designer expects to finish their portion of your project
  • How many copies of your book you’ve ordered
  • When you can expect delivery
  • How much the delivery fee will be
  • The date and location of that speaking event
  • The expected duration of your prepared speech
  • Whether vendor tables are provided for the speakers
  • How many and what form of social media connections you can expect your VA to deliver

Never assume. Always double check. Make sure you understand the questions asked of you – and even more importantly, make sure the people with whom you are communicating fully understand what you want and expect of them.

Happy communicating –



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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Consistency: The key to LUCK in the book business

Today I was invited to contribute a tip for Mike Michalowicz, the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, on this topic:

How do you improve your luck (the odds) in business?  Do you have a single rule or tip that serves you the best in having things go in your favor?

My response:

There’s no better key to achieve success in business than consistency in all things. When you meet new people, follow up immediately EVERY time. When you’re building your social media presence, be there on a REGULAR basis. Using a blog to make a name for yourself? Post frequently and CONSISTENTLY. Be careful not to spread yourself too thin in terms of trying to do it all. Then, increase your luck by creating a pattern or plan and being consistent about it.

Let’s expand just a bit.

When you meet new people, follow up immediately EVERY time. One of the places more business people miss out on opportunities (i.e., sabotage their own luck) is by failing to follow up promptly. Whether it’s a new person at a networking event or the opportunity to speak, an amazing number of people let those opportunities fly right out the window by hesitating or taking too long to respond. Be the early bird and nab that client, speaking gig, or other opportunity!

When you’re building your social media presence, be there on a REGULAR basis. This means that instead of making a sporadic showing on all your various social media sites, you create a plan and contribute consistently. A participant in the Author Blog Challenge Facebook group shared this post from Search Engine Watch about how to create a social media calendar. Most useful if you want to be as effective as possible with your social media presence.

Using a blog to make a name for yourself? Post frequently and CONSISTENTLY. OK, if you’ve been reading the Marcie Brock blog for a while, I’m preaching to the choir on this one. If you’re new here, expect to hear it again and again. It’s frequent, regular posting, combined with the use of good keywords, that will help you make a significant impression on the search engines.

Be careful not to spread yourself too thin in terms of trying to do it all. If you’re a one-woman show, you’ve got to be sensible about your time and efforts. Increase your “luck” by creating a pattern or plan and being consistent about it.

Happy luck-making!



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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Organizing around a common purpose: YOUR book!

A couple days ago, I wrote a post that was a really a challenge about taking steps to overcome fearprimarily of book marketing, but really of whatever is holding you back from succeeding as big as your wildest dreams.

In that post, I mentioned that I’ve recently gotten involved in a political campaign as a volunteer organizer. In just 2 days, things have moved into high gear! The goal of our jobs, we were told during training, is to organize ourselves out of them. We want to build teams who will take over the responsibility we are right now shouldering on our own: 300 calls a week, 10 new voters registered per week, 3 one-on-one meetings with volunteers per week. For a 15-hour-a-week volunteer job, those are fairly lofty goals.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing about facing this daunting task is the realization that I have a pretty substantial network of solid connections. Not everyone allies with me politically, and there are sometimes delicate paths to tread in terms of keeping my business and personal interests separate. Mostly, I don’t worry about those who disagree with me. If you won’t do business with me because you don’t like my politics, that’s OK – there are plenty of other people out there who do agree with you.

It didn’t grow overnight – it was a process. I built this network organically – adding one person at a time to my personal circle. Adding one friend at a time to Facebook and one follower at a time on Twitter. Many people automate – and there are benefits to automation, to be sure. However, I feel the benefit of an organic following of people whom I have a connection with – even if it’s only a virtual connection – serves me better than focusing on the giant numbers.

How my network is serving me

In thinking about whom I know … and whom they know … and how I might leverage all those connections into substantial numbers for my work on this campaign, I am stunned by the depth and breadth of my circle.

  • First I reached out to my sister – and her work connections. Her company works directly with a segment of our target constituency and could, perhaps, give us direct access to them. I won’t know if I don’t ask, right?
  • Next, I reached out to personal friends via e-mail. My pitch to them was two-fold: (1) get involved personally; and (2) put me in touch with anyone they know who might be interested/willing to help out.
  • After that, I reached out to more distant friends via social media with a similar request.
  • I have a friend who specializes in teaching people to overcome Sales Call Reluctance® – the fear of prospecting. It donned on me today that phone banks and voter registration drives can only succeed if the people doing them are FEARLESS about their outreach. That’s not the case for many who are doing it for the first time – hell, it’s not even the case for me, every time. But that’s why I’m here – to push my own comfort envelope just a little bit further. I reached out to my friend to perhaps do a training for us on this, her area of specialization.
  • I have a friend who’s work keeps her very active with one of our target constituencies, so I asked her to put me in contact with the proper people to start the ball rolling so that we can reach out to them.
  • I have another friend who’s v very actively involved in another segment of our target group. I will reach out to her for prospective volunteers and perhaps some physical space in which to do our phone calling.
  • I’m cherry-picking my social networks to interconnect with the new profiles I am building for my campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress.

BUT WAIT! This is a marketing blog, not a political blog. So what do any of these things have to do with you?!!??

Well, my darling SBMs*, everything. It has everything to do with you, in that I want you to think about how you can model these ideas, not with politics as your motivator, but with marketing your book or eBook.

How can YOU leverage all the connections you have and then harness their energy to create a fantastic campaign that will help you make big tracks with your book? Whom do you know that you haven’t reached out to for a while?

  • Accept this as a gentle kick in the butt to revitalize connections you may have allowed to wither a bit.
  • Accept this as an invitation to pursue some of the connections you may once have thought had little to do with your business or life.
  • Accept this as the opportunity to celebrate your circle of influence and look for ways to expand it.

In my case, my common purpose is a political campaign for a candidate who generates a lot of enthusiasm.

In your case, YOU and YOUR BOOK are the center of your common purpose. Your desire, your mission, your goal is to bring as many folks together as you possibly can and then watch the magic that springs forth from that connection.

Happy leveraging!

* Savvy Book Marketer


We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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Today, we’re proud to share with you another GUEST POST! Please read up and take some hints from Judith Cassis as she describes the ups and downs of working with her husband and hiring a productivity consultant. If you’re like me, you will laugh out loud and relate to many points in this post! Please share your thoughts below in the comments section.

What Do You Mean I’m the Problem???

by Judith Cassis

My husband and I decided to complicate things by becoming business partners. Good idea, right? Well … I’m not so sure. Here’s why…

He’s a go-with-the-flow/stand-and-observe person. I’m what you might call – there’s no other way to say it – anal.

I’m a make a decision and run with it kind of gal, and he’s a let’s take our time and look at all the options first, guy. Neither of these had ever presented a problem we couldn’t work through. Except that every time we worked on something together, it drove me nuts.

A couple years ago, we noticed a major hindrance to our growing success was in the area of productivity. We were putting way too much effort into things that should have taken less time and energy. We found ourselves being reactive as opposed to proactive; working from a place of crisis management on a weekly basis. Okay, daily.

Determined not to pull out all our hair, we contacted productivity consultant, Christina Littrell-Williams. A columnist with the weekly paper we produce, she often wrote about a system she’d developed for: (1) unearthing disconnects within a business and (2) making necessary repairs. We decided to work with her.

Over a period of about two weeks, we and each of our support team members spent time being scrutinized … I mean interviewed … by our productivity consultant. I was excited about the prospect of working through the kinks in our business. Moving toward synergy became a concrete reality.

On the day Christina delivered her report, she laid out her paperwork. I loved that she supported her findings with a beautifully organized diagram. There it was: a map of our business, the people who contributed, and most importantly, precious evidence of the productivity glitches in our business.

She explained in great detail, how every one of our team members contributed to designing, producing, and distributing our weekly publication. She demonstrated how, step by step, we went from 16 blank pages to a full-blown paper every week. Outlining everything that was working well, our productivity consultant then announced that she’d discovered a major glitch in operations. Here it comes, I thought. I’ll bet it’s my husband. I readied myself to comfort him when he heard the news.

And then she blindsided me.

What do you mean, I’m the problem? I was shocked. I gave my heart and soul, day after day, to running my business. How could I possibly be the problem?

Our productivity consultant explained that because of my well-developed skills in … micromanagement, I had found a way to … contribute in (weasel my way into) every department. My well-intended efforts were slowing everyone down: I redesigned sections of the paper almost weekly, permitted ad sizes that didn’t fit our standard page format, and my flexibility with contributing writers clogged our pipelines. Yes, I WAS the problem.

Three years later, I still work with my productivity consultant, Christina, on a regular basis. Her pinpoint accuracy in pointing out my wandering focus helps me stay on track. I’m learning how to let go and allow others to do their jobs, even if I would “do it differently.” Unless we’re in a brainstorming session or roundtable discussion, I’m a writer and editor. That’s my job – period.

You know, it actually feels really good to let go. I’m still tempted to “contribute” now and then, but I’m learning. The narrower my focus, the more energy I have to sustain my own ventures and interests.

Three keys to my personal productivity— and they come with a large disclaimer — bold and in big red letters:

Change doesn’t always come easy.
One step at a time
usually works best.

  1. Define desired outcomes – Know what you want, long term and short term, and go after it. It’s okay to change course, but make sure it’s for the right reasons.
  2. Manage your time – Make a schedule and unless an absolute emergency comes up, lay your life on the line to stick to it.
  3. Join a mastermind group – A great way to ensure your progress is to join a mastermind group with an accountability component. Your partners will help keep you focused and will head you off at the pass, should you become distracted.

I’ll always work with a productivity consultant. I’m too close to myself to be fully productive otherwise, and a bird’s eye view helps expand my perspective. My success is contingent upon my ability to be productive, focused and committed. Today, I can say, that I am.

Judith Cassis is a writer, author, and publisher of a weekly publication. Along with ghost writing nonfiction books and articles, she teaches creative writing in Southern California. Contact her at judith@judithcassis.com.


We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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The book marketer’s “bucket list”

“Write down 10 things you would do in
your life
if you had absolutely no fear.
Then pick one of them and do it.”
— Steve Chandler

OK – challenge time. We’ve been at this blog a year now. Whether you’ve been reading for 11 months or 11 days, it’s time to get out from behind your computer and put some of these ideas we’ve been discussing into action.

I hereby alter Steve Chandler’s quote thusly:

Write down 10 things you would do
to market your book if you had absolutely
no fear. Then pick one of them and do it!

Let’s get a list going, right here and right now:

  • Make a book trailer even though I don’t know much about video editing.
  • Start speaking to civic and community groups that include members of my audience, even if I’m terrified of public speaking.
  • Do a radio or TV interview, even if I’ve never done one before.
  • Create a mischief marketing campaign like blanketing the parking lots at an MLB game with postcards to promote my new baseball book, even if I’m worried I’ll get “in trouble.”
  • Interview someone famous in my market or industry, even if I’m worried they won’t want to talk with me.
  • Wear a costume related to one of the characters in my novel to a crowded shopping center and hand out bookmarks, even if I’ll feel silly.
  • Ask someone I admire to write a guest post for my blog, even if I’m incredibly shy.
  • Fork over the $200 to host a book signing at my local indie bookstore, even if that’s a lot of money and I don’t have a guarantee it will go well.
  • Ask someone famous for a blurb for my book, even if I don’t yet know how to contact them.
  • Spray paint my book marketing message where it counts, even if it’s…

I’ll admit some of these ideas are scarier or bigger envelope-pushers than others; it really all depends on your comfort level. I personally have no problems speaking in public, but it’s said that for some people, the fear of public speaker is greater than their fear of dying!

The point is to choose one idea from YOUR list of fears and overcome it by TAKING ACTION!

I recently signed up to be an organizer for a political campaign. That means asking a whole lot of people who don’t necessarily want to talk with me if they’re registered voters. Tap the vocal ones from the opposing party and … oops … I could set off a mini-incident without even trying. The other thing is that I get a lot more rejections than I do signer-uppers because that’s just the nature of the work. Let me tell you – this is pushing me outside my comfort zone in a BIG way.

One of my new voter-reg buddies is fearless – she tells anyone who’s not registered and doesn’t want to register that they’re giving away their power if they don’t vote. I agree – and used that line a couple times myself this weekend … to no avail. I will persist, though, because this is a skill I really want to improve. How can I be a successful team leader if I can’t walk my talk?

Another thing I want to do to push past my current comfort level is take an improv class and/or a class in comedy. I can stand up and give you a compelling, from-the-heart speech – but I’m no Kristin Wiig and get pretty tense at the idea of being silly onstage. SNL just lost one of its greatest performers ever as Kristin left the show to pursue other opportunities. She’s my hero, though – as she exemplifies fearlessness to me.

Who’s your role model? What did they do to overcome their fear and do it anyway? Ready, fire, aim – as my friend and mentor David Hepburn used to say. Otherwise, there’s an awfully strong chance you’ll stand around all day aiming and never quite get around to the firing part.

Happy fear-conquering!



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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Please  A book marketing haiku

As you may recall, I’m not much of a poet. I hated poetry in college but now wish I’d listened to my advisor and taken more of it. In response to a reader comment, I did a post with several ideas for how to market your poetry. Then I came across this quote by Seth Godin, which is a nice reminder that most poets and bloggers are in it for the love of their craft:

“Just as we don’t spend a lot of time worrying about how
all those poets out there are going to monetize their poetry,
the same is true for most bloggers.”
— Seth Godin

I am tackling poetry again in today’s blog as a part of the 2012 Word Count Blogathon. Today’s is Day 21 in the 31-day blog challenge. The theme for today is haiku, which means … you guessed it. I’ve written one.

For those unfamiliar with this style of poetry, a haiku is a very short form of Japanese poetry that typically possesses three qualities:

  • The essence of haiku is cutting, which often is represented by the nearby positioning of two images or ideas with a “cutting” word between them that serves as a sort of verbal punctuation mark signaling the break separating them.
  • A haiku consists of 17 syllables or sounds: 5, 7 and 5 respectively.
  • Haiku traditionally contain a seasonal reference.

According to WikiHow, “a haiku is meant to be a meditation of sorts that conveys an image or a feeling.” In reading many haiku (there is no plural word for haiku), you will notice they either present one idea for the first two lines and then switch quickly to something else, or they reference one thought with the first and last line, and another thought with the middle line. “Haiku has been called an “unfinished” poem because each one requires the reader to finish it in his or her heart,” the WikiHow article continues.

Like any writing or forms of art, haiku takes practice. I am not practiced at it. One of Marcie’s subscribers, however, is quite practiced: read Five Reflections’ daily haiku here.

OK – without any further delay, the unveiling…

To sell books I work

Branding and marketing them

Won’t you buy one, please?

Though there is no seasonal reference, I do think it hits the idea of conveying a feeling, a somewhat plaintive pleading to make all my efforts worthwhile. See, I can even tie in book marketing to a poetry challenge – and I’ll bet you can, too!

The idea is to learn to think like a marketer. Not that the first words out of your mouth when you meet someone new are: “Hi. I wrote a book. Do you want to buy a copy?” But that you keep marketing at a low simmer on the back burner, so that when an opportunity or idea you can leverage into an opportunity does show up, you will recognize it and be ready and able to act on it.

If you’d like to take a break from your own book marketing and try your hand at haiku, definitely read the WikiHow piece on writing a haiku.

Happy haiku!






We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!



Monday, May 7 Blog tour tips from A to Z

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Volunteering: An Unheralded Book Marketing Opportunity

What does volunteering have to do with book marketing? Nothing or everything, depending on how you approach it. If your focus is on relationship building (as any good SBM’s should be)*, volunteering is a great way to meet like-minded people and build relationships around a mutual cause or interest. Of course, you’re not going to walk into a volunteer opportunity, break out your card table and start selling books. But as you meet people and they ask what you do, you will have a chance to have one-on-one conversations that could open doors for you.

Consider these U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics from September 2011:

  • 26.8 percent of the American population volunteers.
  • People ages 35 to 54 are the most likely to volunteer (31 percent of that population).
  • Educated folks are more likely to give their time (42.4 percent of those holding a BA or higher).
  • Those working part-time are the most likely to volunteer (28.7 full-time; 33.3 part-time; 23.8 unemployed).
  • Volunteers give an average of 51 hours per year.
  • Most are involved with one or two organizations.
  • Folks 65+ are more likely to volunteer through their church (44.9 percent), as are those with less education (47.8 percent of those with a high school diploma or less).
  • Primary activities performed by volunteers include: fundraising (11 percent) and collecting, preparing, or distributing food (10.6 percent).
  • Men are more likely to engage in general labor (13.3 percent) or get involved with a sports team as a coach, referee, or supervisor (10.1 percent).
  • Women are more likely to do fundraising (12.6 percent); collecting, preparing, or distributing food (12.5 percent) or tutoring (10.7 percent).

General Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering gives you the opportunity to expand your sphere of influence. One of the best ways to bond with new people or strengthen existing relationships is by participating in a shared activity. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, especially if you are new to an area. Volunteering can strengthen your community ties, broaden your network, enable you to meet people with common interests, as well as introducing you to community resources and fun, fulfilling activities.

Volunteering helps you expand your social and relationship skills. This can be particularly useful to authors who love to write but have a hard time with that whole “being visible” aspect of book marketing. While some people are naturally outgoing, others are more introverted and find it challenging to meet new people. Volunteering gives you a chance to practice and develop your social skills, since you meet regularly with a group of people with common interests. Once get more comfortable with your small group, it will likely become easier to branch out and make more friends and contacts.

Volunteering can help you increase your self-confidence. Volunteering can give a boost to your self-esteem and satisfaction in life. Besides doing good for others and your community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment, volunteering can also give an enhanced sense of identity. Improved personal confidence will enhance every aspect of your book marketing campaign.

Virtual volunteering?
Yes, there is such a thing! If you have computer access and the necessary skills, some organizations now offer the opportunity to do volunteer work over the computer. This might take the form of giving free legal advice, typing a college term paper for a person with a disability, or simply keeping in contact with a shut-in who has e-mail. This sort of volunteering might be well suited to you if you have limited time, no transportation, or a physical disability that precludes you from getting about freely. Virtual volunteering can also be a way for you to give time if you simply enjoy computers and want to employ your computer skills in your volunteer work.

Volunteering can help you hone your skills. Volunteering can offers you the chance to use your current skills (ahem, you are a writer) or gain experience in a new field. Your volunteer work could also give you the opportunity you to connect with professional organizations or internships that could benefit your writing or book promotions.

Benefits of Industry-Specific Volunteering

  • Behind the Scenes Tour – Volunteering for industry events is a great way to receive full access to the event without spending any money. Besides making yourself useful, you often have the opportunity to attend the entire conference or function in exchange for a little of your time.
  • Inside Track to Becoming a Presenter – Opportunities come to those who are in the right place to capitalize on them. What better way to learn about speaking opportunities than by working with a conference organizer? Make a good impression with the tasks assigned to you, keep your ears open, and build your relationship with the conference organizer.
  • Put Your Social Media Skills to Work – Virtually every organization wants to use social media, but very few have the proper time to dedicate to it. Demonstrate your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and/or blogging prowess and you will likely see your own visibility and traffic improve, too!
  • CoBranding Benefits You – Once you’ve volunteered for a while, people naturally begin to associate you with the brands of the organizations you serve. Donating time to a popular, highly visible, and well-received organization can only enhance your personal capital as an author.
  • Give Support, Get Support – Perhaps one of the best things about volunteering in an industry allied with the subject of your book is the opportunity to build a personal network of supportive individuals. You give to the organization with your time, but you also will likely receive an abundance of support for your work as you get more involved.

Determine Why You Want to Volunteer

I would not suggest going into a volunteer opportunity with marketing your book as your only goal. If, however, you want to make a difference while you expand your circle of friends and acquaintances, it may be the perfect vehicle.

In looking for an opportunity, consider your goals. What is important to you?

  • To improve your local community
  • To meet new people who may have had different experiences
  • To try something new
  • To do something constructive with your spare time
  • To explore different ways of life and new places
  • To dabble at the type of work you’re considering as a full-time job
  • To do more with your interests and hobbies
  • To do something you’re good at

Determining How You Want to Volunteer

There are absolutely no right or wrong answers to the following questions – only your answers. What would make you most happy in a volunteer situation?

  • Would you prefer to work with other people or would you rather work on your own?
  • Are you better behind the scenes or would you like to take a more visible role?
  • How much time are you able and willing to commit?
  • How much responsibility are you ready to take on?
  • What skills can you bring a volunteer job?
  • What causes are important to you?

Places to Find Volunteer Opportunities

  • Community theaters, museums, art galleries, and monuments
  • Libraries, neighborhood parks, or senior centers
  • Service organizations such as Lions or Rotary clubs
  • Youth organizations, sports teams, and after-school programs
  • Historical societies and national parks
  • Political organizations or campaigns
  • Places of worship such as churches or synagogues
  • Day care centers, Neighborhood Watch programs, public schools and colleges
  • Halfway houses or drug rehab centers
  • Fraternal organizations and civic clubs
  • Hospitals, retirement centers, Meals on Wheels, and church or community-sponsored soup kitchens or food pantries
  • Community choirs, bands, and orchestras
  • Prisons or youth detention centers
  • Shelters for battered women and children
  • VolunteerMatch – An online volunteer search database which allows you to search for opportunities that match your volunteer interests, from location to type of work
  • Idealist – A site that helps you find volunteer opportunities in your local area or internationally.

Happy volunteering!


*Savvy Book Marketer







We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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