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Archive for August, 2012

New book encourages YOU to take the driver’s seat in your search for health

I want to go off-topic today to write about something really important. It was a year ago today that my mom

Betty P. Orsini
1/8/1929-8/31/2011

passed away from a massive stroke. She was in a nursing home and her health had been declining for some time. Nearly a dozen years earlier, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease – a diagnosis I protested futilely for nearly that entire time. “It doesn’t present like Alzheimer’s!”I would tell her neurologist, again and again, only to be told each time that he was the doctor and this was what his test results indicated. His test results were wrong, I just knew it – but I had no way of proving or validating my point.

After the stroke that eventually claimed her life, a specialist was called in at my older sister’s request. He spoke to my younger sister, asking, “What exactly are you expecting me to do? We can’t save her.”

My younger sister told him, “I just want you to release her back to hospice.”

Our older sister was protesting our hospice decision and needed the word of a doctor before she’d accept the reality: Mom was going to die. Turns out, she did all of us a huge favor, because the doctor also said something that resolved my years and years of bafflement. He explained that in looking at my mom’s CAT scans, it was obvious that she had severe vascular dementia – meaning she’d probably suffered a severe stroke, or a series of strokes, much earlier in her life. Vascular dementia – not Alzheimer’s.

Ever since I can remember, my mom was always a bit off, but the very noticeable decline began just before the

Source: helpguide.org/elder/vascular_dementia.htm

Alzheimer’s diagnosis. To us, the dementia presented like mental illness. Odd behavior. Tantrums. Rambling sentences that made no sense of any kind. All of which were punctuated by periods of extreme lucidity – times when, heart-breakingly, she’d tell my sister she felt like she was going crazy. If only we’d known, we might have been able to do something. Stroke damage is permanent – but we might have been able to allay the future strokes and assuage some of the more severe symptoms.

As difficult as it is to think about and write this, my message to you is this:

If you know in your heart you are right about something so important, stand up for yourself and/or your loved ones and demand to be heard!

My client, Natasha Deonarain, is a medical doctor who has written a book called The 7 Principles of Health. In it, she outlines steps each of us can take to reclaim our health – and they begin with wresting control back from the doctors. Doctors are not infallible – but somewhere along the way, in the establishment of our current medical system, we’ve given them all the power to decide for us. Natasha’s main point is that doctors can’t lead us to health because they’re trained in disease, and they all begin from a place of disease orientation first. In order to find health and healing, we must begin from a health orientation. That means it’s up to US – not the doctors – to find our own paths to health.

It’s a great book – one I would recommend even if I hadn’t worked on it. Be warned, however: if you grew up with the mindset that the doctor is always right, this book will shake your belief system to its core. But I promise you will come out better for it on the other side. The book is still a few months from publication, but you can visit Natasha’s website to download Chapter 1.

Since my mom passed away, I’ve often wondered what it would be like to talk with her now. Not as a ghost or a spirit, but without the filter of the illness. What would it be like to have a normal conversation with her? What would it be like to have a real mother-daughter relationship? I don’t miss her in the way that most daughters probably miss their moms who’ve died. I miss what might have been – but more than that, I’m glad she’s finally free.

Please use your voice and speak up while you still have the chance to make a difference for yourself and those you love. And reserve a copy of Natasha’s book. You’ll be glad you did.

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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There’s still time to get in on our 10-week program: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS. It starts Sept 5 and goes for 10 consecutive weeks. Sign up for single classes or pay for all 10 and receive a 25 percent discount. Week 1: Facebook Fan Pages (9/5/12); Week 2: Twitter (9/12/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (9/19/12); Week 4: Pinterest (9/26/12); Week 5: SlideShare (10/3/12); Week 6: YouTube (10/10/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (10/17/12); Week 8: Ning (10/24/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (10/31/12); Blogging 2 (11/7/12).

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10 reasons authors SHOULD make face-to-face networking a priority

Since we’ve been talking a bit about networking the last couple of posts, I decided to do a series of posts on the subject. You may groan, thinking I’m an author – what possible benefits could there be for me in networking? Or you may already be a fairly stellar networker, in which case, perhaps you could add your own thoughts to these posts in the comments section. The fact is that unless you are trained to do it well, you may not (a) see the value of networking, (b) do it very well, or (c) find it as highly beneficial as it could be. Our goal with this series is to help you correct those issues.

According to virtually every marketing expert, face-to-face meetings have the highest value in terms of making connections and building your sphere of influence. Yes, there’s a limit to the number of people you can meet, but that should not deter you from making the effort. The following are 10 reasons you, as an author, should make the effort to do some regular face-to-face networking.

  1. Get out from behind the keyboard. As you’re no doubt aware, writing is an isolated profession. Sure, you can hit your favorite coffeehouse for some socialization, but sitting amid a bunch of noisy strangers is not really the same as creating meaningful conversations and connections. Regular networking gives those of us who spend a lot of time alone the chance to mix and  mingle with other like-minded folks.
  2. Practice talking about your book. Unless you are truly blessed with the gift of gab, chances are that it’s easier to write your message than it is to tell other people about it. Regular networking gives you the opportunity to do the ubiquitous 30-second commercial, during which time you can practice pitching your book.
  3. Meet other authors and writers. Virtually every industry has organizations devoted to it. Writing and publishing is no different. Sometimes it’s just good to get together with other writers to compare notes, share war stories, and swap tips and hints. One caveat: If you’re a freelancer and you’re networking with other freelancers, you must [learn to] embrace a prosperity perspective that says there’s plenty of work for all of you, rather than going to a place of pettiness and lack that pits you against each other as competitors.
  4. Meet other publishing industry experts. Beyond meeting other writers, it’s always good to grow your network of other publishing industry expertspeople like editors, book designers, videographers who specialize in book trailers, web designers, intellectual property attorneys, etc.
  5. Be a resource for others. One of the fastest ways to create goodwill is by giving first. Regular networking gives you the opportunity to become a resource for others, whether that means making appropriate introductions, sharing tips and tools, or simply cheering on your colleagues’ successes.
  6. Learn new skills. Many networking events are tied to business development groups that offer presentations by speakers and experts of all stripes. If you’re new to publishing, or to business in general, these can be excellent opportunities to learn specific new skills like marketing, social media, accounting, public speaking, presentation skills, etc.
  7. Take a leadership role. When you find the right organization and decide to join, there’s almost a built-in opportunity to enhance your leadership skills by taking on a role within the organization. This does two things: (1) It helps you further develop your own skill set. (2) It gives you greater visibility within the organization.
  8. Open doors to speaking opportunities. As an organization leader, you will likely find yourself making greater connections with experts, speakers, and other organizational leaders. Pay attention and listen closely, and you may learn of excellent opportunities to speak and/or present to other groups.
  9. Create name recognition. One thing every author needs is a platform, which begins with local name recognition. Even if you live in a fairly small community, it will never hurt for more people to recognize and refer to you as an author. Parlay that renown into speaking opportunities, sales, and more.
  10. Sell more books. Many networking events make vendor tables/booths available to members and/or attendees. In the right setting, you can use such an opportunity to sell more books and create even greater visibility from which to grow your platform.

Next up, we’re going to dive into the basics: how to make a good first impression. You’d be amazed at how many things affect the way people think of you on your first meeting!

In the meantime, put your SBM thinking caps on and consider (new) places you might get out and make yourself visible!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

There’s still time to get in on our 10-week program: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS. It starts Sept 5 and goes for 10 consecutive weeks. Sign up for single classes or pay for all 10 and receive a 25 percent discount. Week 1: Facebook Fan Pages (9/5/12); Week 2: Twitter (9/12/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (9/19/12); Week 4: Pinterest (9/26/12); Week 5: SlideShare (10/3/12); Week 6: YouTube (10/10/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (10/17/12); Week 8: Ning (10/24/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (10/31/12); Blogging 2 (11/7/12).

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When networking comes full circle

People tend to either love networking or hate it. I remember when I first moved to Phoenix and a VERY connected woman I met asked me, “Do you know So-and-So? How about this other So-and-So? What about the So-and-So from that important organization?” I didn’t know any of them – and what’s more, I was flummoxed at the expectation that I should know them. How does one get to know such people? I remember thinking.

One gets to know such people through networking.

OK, so is networking the best way to market your book? Not directly, perhaps, but there are loads of ancillary benefits that can help you indirectly.

As we’ve established, I didn’t know anyone when I first started my business. So I networked my little butt off. For my first year or so in business, I had two, maybe three clients. So I kept networking. And between finding my own clients, I spent a lot of time connecting the other people I was meeting to each other. I’d go to an event and meet a tax attorney. Then I’d go somewhere else and meet someone who mentioned in conversation that they were looking for a tax attorney. So I’d connect the two. There’s actually an art to doing this that I’ll discuss in a later post, but the general gist was that I put a lot of people together. It’s easy to do when you listen well. And when you don’t ask for anything in return, it creates a ton of goodwill.

Eventually the leads started coming in for my business – and it began growing. That was 10 years ago, and some of the seeds I sowed all those years ago are still paying off in referrals today.

One of the first people I met through my slowly burgeoning network was my friend Connie, an impressive international sales trainer. Connie works on the self-sabotaging mindset that keeps people from prospecting and self-promoting. And she, herself, is fearless.

Last week, we attended a local meeting of the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA), and Connie shared a success story that contains a great tip for almost any business owner, including you – my dear Marcie Brock readers. A few years ago, I introduced Connie to a website called Help a Reporter (HARO). Have you ever wondered where news sources like The New York Times, NBC, USA Today, or national radio broadcasts find the people they interview for their stories? Often, they use a site like Help a Reporter.

Through this site, you can register to become either a “source” or a “reporter.” As a source, you plug in your areas of interest and you sign up to receive daily e-mail alerts with news queries on those subjects. As a reporter, you can submit a request to find a source on almost any topic under the sun. And, the “reporter” status is loosely enough defined that you can register as an author, a blogger, or simply as someone conducting research in a given area. (There are a few caveats – please see the comment below.)

Best of all – there is no charge for the service. That’s right – it’s completely free. Each e-mail begins with an ad – and these notices go out to tens of thousands of sources daily, so the ads really pay off for the advertisers. This site gives you the chance to become a source for major organizations like The Wall Street Journal as well as smaller venues like our very own Marcie Brock’s blog. So chances are that if you’ve written a book, you’ve got some specialized knowledge – and a stroll over to Help a Reporter could prove extremely beneficial to you.

It sure proved beneficial to Connie. She answered a HARO query a few months back from a CNN reporter and was quoted in the reporter’s story. Then Connie followed up with the reporter, asking if she might be interested in a column Connie had written on the same subject as the initial query. The reporter said, “Sure!” I edited the column, Connie emailed it to her, and the reporter used parts of it in another story. Connie then followed up again, asking the reporter if she knew of any organizations looking for speakers on this same topic. Guess what – Connie has booked speaking gigs in Dallas and San Diego as a direct result of this follow-up call, and three more cities are pending!

Morals of the story

I met Connie almost a decade ago through networking. She’s become a great friend and a valued client. I shared with Connie the useful information about signing up for HARO, and she jumped on it. She’s landed at least a half-dozen opportunities from it – but this latest one was huge. And Connie brought it full circle by sharing her success at our ABWA group. She gave me credit for introducing her to HARO, but she created her own goodwill by passing the info along to the other members.

I’m guessing you can do the same in your own spheres of influence.

Here’s to great networking, maximizing leads, and marketing your book!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

There’s still time to get in on our 10-week program: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS. It starts Sept 5 and goes for 10 consecutive weeks. Sign up for single classes or pay for all 10 and receive a 25 percent discount. Week 1: Facebook Fan Pages (9/5/12); Week 2: Twitter (9/12/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (9/19/12); Week 4: Pinterest (9/26/12); Week 5: SlideShare (10/3/12); Week 6: YouTube (10/10/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (10/17/12); Week 8: Ning (10/24/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (10/31/12); Blogging 2 (11/7/12).

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Building a platform from the ground up

OK. You likely noticed that I’ve been away for a while. Turns out two blog challenges in a row – one as a participant and one as the host – kicked my ass. I was a little tired in early July and just decided to take a couple weeks off. Then, I had a wholly unexpected allergic reaction to some lavender oil, and it set me on butt for an additional month. Headaches. Very pretty bumps on my face. Sleeplessness and ensuing exhaustion. I did just enough work to meet client needs, and even that was slow and cumbersome. I don’t recommend such an experience to anyone.

I’ve been touching my toes back in the social media waters these last couple weeks and finally feel it’s time to get back to my blog – which I love. I have missed being a part of things! So, here’s the first thing to come to mind.

Laura

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I have a new client who came to me as a referral – a new author. Her book is a 122,000-word World War II romance. She was seeking information/help with publishing it. In our first conversation, we discussed print options as well as eBook distribution. Since her primary goal was just to “get the book out there,” she decided to go for the simpler eBook option to start. To save her the money and effort involved in formatting/layout for each individual platform, we went with the one-size-fits-all Smashwords for distribution.

Smashwords is a good solution for an all-text book like a novel. It does not work as well, however, for books that incorporate any sort of graphics or variation in headings/font sizes. All we had to do was design a cover, fully justify the text, remove the page numbers, slip it into a Word ’97-2003 doc format, and it was good to go. Uploading it to Smashwords took a matter of minutes, and voila – there it sits. Ready and waiting for people to come and buy it. Keyword: WAITING.

This is virtually every new author’s dilemma. The book is done – now how the hell do I get the readers-cum-buyers to show up?

It was an especially challenging question for my client, because she had zero  online presence. I am NOT exaggerating. No mailing list. No blog. No website. No Facebook. No Twitter. No LinkedIn. No social media of any kind. She has a computer which she used for writing her book, and she has email. That’s it. So we are literally starting at the bottom to build her an online presence.

While there are many different paths to the same end goal – marketing her book – it was her choice to begin with blogging. I believe every author must start with the thing that is the most comfortable for them. It’s not going to do you any good if I help you build a Facebook fan page but you just don’t want to be on Facebook because you’re so uncomfortable with it.

So we set up the blog. It’s called Fox Tales, if you want to check it out – but don’t expect any posts yet. Baby steps … did I mention we’re starting from the ground floor?

Next she’ll start exploring the blog. Practice posting. And begin writing. She plans to follow my recommendations for the 6 steps to blogging success:

  1. Writing 40 to 50 posts in a ROW (weekends included) from the date of her launch.
  2. Writing quality content that is of interest to her targeted readers: lovers of historical fiction and romance.
  3. Using an image with every post.
  4. Selecting good keywords for every post.
  5. Posting on a regular schedule after the initial 40 to 50 posts.
  6. Commenting on other blogs on similar topics, and being generous with her feedback to commenters on her blog.

Will it be an uphill battle? Sure. Is it going to take a while? You bet. Can it be done? Of course!

Regardless of where you are in terms of writing or publishing your book, it’s not too soon to be thinking about marketing it! Take an honest survey of your online presence. How big is your platform, really? Your email list? Your social media contacts? Your speaking gigs? Your networking circles? Who will be clamoring to buy the book the minute it goes on sale? How excited will they be to share it with the others in their circles?

If this all scares you just a bit, that’s OK. No need to panic. Just pick up the phone and give me a call (602.518.5376) or drop me an email. The initial consultation is complimentary.

You wrote/are writing a great book. It deserves a great readership. Make sure your prospective readers have the chance to become actual readers!

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

There’s still time to get in on our 10-week program: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS. It starts Sept 5 and goes for 10 consecutive weeks. Sign up for single classes or pay for all 10 and receive a 25 percent discount. Week 1: Facebook Fan Pages (9/5/12); Week 2: Twitter (9/12/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (9/19/12); Week 4: Pinterest (9/26/12); Week 5: SlideShare (10/3/12); Week 6: YouTube (10/10/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (10/17/12); Week 8: Ning (10/24/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (10/31/12); Blogging 2 (11/7/12).

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