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Archive for June, 2014

Enunciation is a skill worth developing in your effort to market your books

I once had a colleague who was a voice coach. Her business, in fact, was Vocal Intelligence. Pam regularly asserted that people who learn to properly enunciate are perceived to be more intelligent – whether they are or not – and, more often than not achieve more promotions and professional accolades than lazy speakers who have not bothered to develop proper vocal skills.

"Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall." — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

I was recently discussing this concept with some friends and colleagues and was reminded of a man I met in Toastmasters who runs a pitching school for aspiring baseball players. He had once upon a time made it to The Big Show, pitching 3.2 innings (11 outs for those keeping track) for the Boston Red Sox in the 1970s. This fellow didn’t stay with Toastmasters long, but one of his big enunciation boo-boos has stayed with me because it was memorable. Unfortunately, I’m sure he’s not alone in committing it.

One teaching tool in Toastmasters is the assignment of a “grammarian” at every meeting, one person whose job it is to listen for excellent uses of grammar, as well as those instances that could use some improvement. One time as grammarian, I caught my ballplayer friend using the term “ahmunna.” Any guesses as to what he was actually trying to say? How about I AM GOING TO? Five syllables condensed down to two or three, depending. Now he may be going gangbusters with his pitching school, but I can virtually guarantee he’d do even better if he made proper vocal skills a priority.

And so can you, when it comes to pitching (ha – what a great tie-in/pun!) your book. Whether you are speaking one-on-one in a 30-second elevator speech, giving a 30-second commercial at your favorite networking group, giving a radio or television interview, or giving a workshop or keynote speech, your enunciation should be a key component of your speaking (and marketing) strategy.

Want an example of the difference between excellent enunciation and someone who sloppily drops their -ings at the ends of words? Just go out into the world and start listening. In fact, read the last few sentences out loud in your natural style. Don’t over- or under-emphasize any aspect. Just say the words out loud. If you like, record yourself doing it, so you get a baseline for how you sound. Then go over and check out Jade Joddle on YouTube. OK, she’s British – but that shouldn’t affect your appreciation for her amazing diction and enunciation. And she’s got 75 videos on many different aspects of vocal quality that can help you improve your own speech patterns. Some are better, and more germane to this subject, than others – but there are many from which to choose. I think if all you do is make an effort to modulate and complete the ends of your words like Jade does, you’ll find your speaking skills vastly improved.

More than anything, your goal is to have people understand you when you speak. But important secondary goals might be to have them take note of you as a speaker, to remark that you are a good speaker, and/or to recommend you as a speaker to others. None of that will happen if you say writin’ instead of writing, fir instead of for, or gonna instead of going to.

If you really intend to use your book as a means of jump-starting a public speaking career or, conversely, speaking to sell more books, you might want to invest in a voice coach who can help you get the rest of the way toward your goal. Do your research and due diligence. Get references from past students, and where possible, look at before-and-after video comparisons of where the student started before hiring the coach, and where he or she is today.

Here’s to speaking your way to success!

Laura

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Summer Author Event

PHOENIX-AREA AUTHORS: If you or someone you know is an author in Phoenix, please consider participating in the Summer Author Event on August 16. This multi-author book signing and meet-and-greet will put you in front of hundreds of readers in a casual environment where you can sell and sign books. There are three levels of participation. The first 100 attendees will receive goody bags – and for just $25, you can put a promo for your book into the goody bags!  Learn more or register at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Skill matters — but heart matters more when it comes to your book’s message

A few days ago, I was asked about my life philosophy at a business event. This didn’t happen as we were just passing cards during a 30-second intro — it was part of an exercise on the topic of building consensus by learning to understand where others are coming from.

Participants were given a list of about 80 values (e.g., cooperation, creativity, excellence, involvement, loyalty, freedom, public messageservice, stability, sophistication, and wisdom) and asked to choose the 10 they felt best represented themselves. We were then asked to narrow that list down to our Top 5 and rank them in order of importance. The exercise consisted of pairing off with others, showing them our Top 5 list, and having the other person ask us to explain what one of those terms meant to us, personally. My top 5 included personal development, freedom, influencing others, affection, and helping society. The gal who chose to ask me about my value of helping society also asked about my life philosophy.

My answer to her was, essentially, that I really, truly, and from the bottom of my heart want to change the world and make it a better place for all of us. But I cannot do that on my own. In my opinion, no single book or single messenger could undertake such a massive goal. But I can — and do — effect change by helping other people write the best books they can and then get those books into the hands of readers. I don’t write all the books or share all the messages myself; I help many messengers raise their voices and exert their influence in their particular fields.

I wouldn’t have given this much more thought, except that a related question arose in one of my LinkedIn groups today. The headline read: Are you an elitist? Or do you believe everyone should write? 

Wow! I’d actually like to meet the person who said that everyone should not write. Now, I’m something of a perfectionist, so I get the absolute frustration with the plethora of crap books out there. I’ve said before and I’ll say again: The good news is that writing a book is easier than it’s ever been; the bad news, also, is that writing a book is easier than it’s ever been. Not everyone is a born writer. Not everyone has any skill whatsoever at putting sentences on a page in a way that makes sense, allows proper white space, incorporates correct grammar, or spells even passably. But the lack of those technical skills does not automatically diminish the message.

I was inherently blessed with a decent command of grammar and language and communication. I’ve often come across other writers who find writing difficult. I saw the banner of a colleague’s Facebook page today with the Ernest Hemingway quote: “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter — and bleed.” I’ve never referenced that quote because it’s not a feeling with which I am familiar or one I want to perpetuate.

Writing, editing, layout, design, and marketing are easy for me. I know that is not the case for all — or most — writers and would-be authors. But because it’s easy for me, I can help others who struggle with those parts! The thing I absolutely cannot do is give you a message or a passion or an urge to make a difference with your words. Feel you can’t write your way out of a paper bag — but you have an idea that could save, transform, or uplift the lives of many? What if you’d met that person who felt that since you’re not a natural writer, you should pack it in and give up the thought of writing a book or speaking in public or sharing your message with the world?

Maybe … perhaps … possibly you have met that person, and he or she so discouraged you that you’ve still got a tiny little voice inside you telling you that you have something important to say, but it’s buried under all the crap you’ve allowed others to heap on you. Maybe it was a parent or a shitty school teacher who had no business in a classroom. Maybe it was an unsupportive sibling or spouse who told you your writing would never come to anything. Maybe it was an envious colleague who wanted to see you fail so they could feel better about themselves. Doesn’t matter who it was — or what they said. What matters is that you ignore their messaging, dismantle the self-sabotage you’ve allowed to take hold, and begin to listen more intently to your own voice — the one with the important message.feet

I can’t change the world by myself. I don’t know enough about the environment, immigration, prison reform, healthcare, education, relationships, spirituality, or any of the other myriad places I know we need to foster change. I know what I’d like to see happen, and I know there are many out there who are already making a big difference. But there are many, also, who are not yet making any difference at all because they’re fearful that they don’t know enough, aren’t polished enough, don’t have enough skill as writers. I’m here to help you stomp out such nonsense, once and for all.

Please don’t get bogged down in the technical details. Making a book is EASY — I promise. Writing it may take a bit of effort, but even that doesn’t have to be as difficult as you may have talked yourself into believing it is. The one part only you can do is have a message, a mission, and the will to share it with the world.

Are you ready to take a step forward? To begin to help me change the world? You can do it — I know you can.

Here’s to proving all the naysayers wrong!

Laura

__________________

Summer Author Event

PHOENIX-AREA AUTHORS: If you or someone you know is an author in Phoenix, please consider participating in the Summer Author Event on August 16. This multi-author book signing and meet-and-greet will put you in front of hundreds of readers in a casual environment where you can sell and sign books. There are three levels of participation. The first 100 attendees will receive goody bags – and for just $25, you can put a promo for your book into the goody bags!  Learn more or register at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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30 writing/marketing challenges for 30 days

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, Martijn Schirp should feel quite flattered, as I’m borrowing and adapting his fantastic idea from this post at High Existence: 30 Challenges for 30 Days. For the math-challenged among us (seriously, I’m not laughing at you — I understand!) that’s 2-and-a-half YEARS worth of challenges, if you were to do them successively.

Where Martijn’s ideas apply, I’ll leave them. But I’m filling out the 30 with some of our very own Marcie Brock ideas! Martijn ranks each challenge as easy, intermediate, or hard. I think that’s a subjective assessment that only the challenge-taker can determine. That’s not to say that some of these won’t be easier, and others more difficult.

#1 Write a Thank-You note/text/email each day. Certainly, there must be 30 people in your life who have helped you develop as a writer, take a step forward as an author, get the word out about your book. You may not still be in regular contact with them, but don’t let that stop you. This is the perfect way to let someone else know you care. You surely will make someone’s day, 30 days in a row!

#2 Talk to one stranger each day. If you’re shy, this is a great motivation to step out of your comfort zone and chat with networkingpeople. Of course, it does require that you get out from behind your computer, because online chatting doesn’t count. NOTE: This challenge is not ‘Tell one new person all about your book each day.’ It’s probably better if you don’t force a conversation about your book on every stranger you come across. You might just start with saying “Hi.” Then work up to other topics, like the weather, the headlines on the tabloids if you’re in line at the grocery store, etc. People are generally friendly, but don’t get freaked out if you meet an equally shy person. Just say hello and move along, without taking it personally. Remember where you were before you began this challenge!

#3 Take one picture related to your book each day (and post it on Pinterest). If pictures related to your book are difficult to come up with, you could take 30 photos of yourself reading your book in different poses/places, but that might be a bit self-aggrandizing. So what about enlisting friends to help you out. If they don’t have your book yet, this might incentivize them to buy it. Or, you might just have to
show up at their doors and ask them to pose with your book. Either way, lots of fun, don’t you think? Add to the power by posting the pics on Pinterest.

#4 Re-evaluate one long-held belief each day. Questioning your own beliefs is a great way to rid yourself of the self-sabotaging bullshit, while continually implementing and acting on the new knowledge you’ve taken on since you began this self-examination. If you’ve got a habit of getting in your own way, maybe you want to make this challenge a priority.

#5 Watch a YouTube video on your subject/theme each day. One way to stay fresh and keep the ideas flowing is by checking to see what others in your industry are doing. YouTube is great for book trailers, how-to videos, motivation and inspiration, and author vignettes. Take a spin — then implement what you learn!

#6 POST a YouTube video on your subject/theme each day. Yes, this is what they call “out of the frying pan and into the fire.”  Make this easier on yourself by making a bunch of short videos in one session, and posting them separately. Need ideas for topics? Your book. The setting. Your characters. You can talk about them, read illustrative samples from the text, or go to (or find video of) places/people that resemble your setting/characters. Your writing space. Your influences and inspirations. The ideas are endless, really.

#7 Read one chapter of a marketing book each day — and take (or plan to take) one action step from it. This accomplishes two things: (1) the more you read, the better a writer you will become, and (2) it will give you new marketing ideas that you can implement into your book marketing campaign.

#8 Read a blog post each day and comment on it. Always wanted to know everything about Animal Behaviour? Psychology? Physics? Philosophy? Educate yourself without school! You’ll probably learn something, and it will help increase your sphere of influence, especially if you ever decide to incorporate a blog tour into your book marketing campaign.

#9 Write a blog post each day. A blog challenge like the Ultimate Blog Challenge (or Author Blog Challenge, if we decide to bring it back) may help incentivize you to stay on track with this one!

#10 Write a new article and post on eZineArticles.com. Articles are different from blog posts, in that they tend to be written third person and presented from an objective perspective. The best ones incorporate a third-party source into them, be it a blog, article, quote, or excerpt from a book. And you get to include a resource box with a call to action and a link back to your blog or website!

#11 Pick one bad habit you already have and ditch it for 30 days. Are you a procrastinator? Do you tend to overexaggerate the negative side of things? Do you practice self-hate? Do you eat fast food? Do you play too many video games? Watch too much TV? Choose one habit and give it up for 30 days, and fill that void with one of the other challenges instead.

#12 Write a 60,000-word novel in 30 days (2,000 words a day). OK — this is especially for those who still haven’t begun writing, Ever wanted to write a book? Do it. Do it in 30 days. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) happens every November, so you’ve still got a few months to do your research and get your duckies lined up. Check out the official site here.

#13 Post to your favorite social media site every day. Try to incorporate the 4 + 1 + 1 rule: for every post that promotes your book, write one post of original content that is not a direct promotion for your book but something useful for your readers, and post four pieces of content from other (more recognizable?) influencers in your field or genre.

#14 Clear your clutter each day. If you’re already a neat creative type, this is not a challenge for you, so move on to something Pig-Penelse. If, however, your work area would make Schultz’s Pigpen proud, spend 15 minutes each day clearing out the clutter. Put books on the shelves where they belong. Toss or recycle old papers you no longer need. File or organize the ones you do. Sweep out the cobwebs and dust. You’ll have a new outlook, become more productive, and chances are, your income will increase, too!

#15 Create a power hour each day. This idea comes from my friend Joey Sampaga, who used it to great effect to build his mortgage business. Every day, he’d clear one hour in his schedule to make phone calls to people. He wasn’t selling anything – just checking in to say hello and further develop solid relationships. Yes – he got off the computer and used his phone for phone calls! Wondering where you should begin? How about tackling the stack of business cards you’ve been meaning to get to? Surprise people – be the one who follows up first!

#16 Download a card scan app for your phone and scan a few cards every day. Again, if you’re already ultra-organized, this won’t be a challenge for you. But if you’ve got cards sitting around in little piles going back to January (or longer), get organized by at least adding them to your database so you can see who’s there, categorize them, and put them on your regular newsletter or email list. As my friend Todd Smith used to say, “Those are little piles of money scattered around your office, car, house, etc.!”

#17 Do a random act of kindness each day. Wait – this isn’t related to my book or marketing! Oh, but it is! This is called generating good karma and promoting the Law of Attraction. You want good stuff to come to you? You’ve got to get into the habit of giving good stuff to others. And maybe it is related to your book, depending on the subject/genre of your book. Is your book about caregiving for the elderly? Help a caregiver or elderly person out every day! These gestures can be large or small in scale. Pay for the coffee of the person in line behind you at your favorite coffee shop. Mow an incapacitated neighbor’s lawn. Smile at someone you wouldn’t normally approach. Touch a homeless person – physically touch them! We all need human touch to survive, and that population, especially, lacks it the most. Get creative. It will help you feel better about yourself and the world around you!

#18 Spend 10 minutes a day visualizing yourself achieving your goal. Really do this! Make sure you’re in a quiet space where you’ll be undisturbed for this exercise. Whether it’s selling 10,000 copies of your debut novel and making The New York Times Best-Seller List or landing keynote speaking gigs, visualize yourself achieving whatever your goal looks like. See it happening in real time, as if you are acting it out – not as if you’re watching yourself starring in a movie. See it in color, and make sure the image takes up the entire frame of your visual field (even if you’re doing this with your eyes closed). Feel the emotions of achieving your goal, allowing yourself to get excited, happy, energetic, etc. Keep it up past the 30 days if you really intend to manifest the goal!

#19 Write down 10 (or 25 or 50) things for which you are grateful each day. Sometimes we can get stuck in a rut, feeling like we’re not making any progress or like other people have it easier or are catching all the breaks. It’s essential to snap out of this kind of thinking as quickly as possible, and one of the easiest ways to do that is by taking stock of all the things we have to be grateful for. If you’re reading this on a laptop, that’s something. Smartphone? Something else. Able to read at all? Able to write? Have some good graphics skills? Have people in your life who support you? All your body parts working? Most of them? Have running water and AC in your home? Have a home office – or an office office? Have a car or transportation? Able to breath fresh air? You get the idea…

#20 Think of an accomplishment you’d like to achieve for each year of the next 30 years, one year for each day. clockThis is great existential shock therapy. You can’t answer these questions without facing your life as it is right now and how it is likely to unfold. This one also gets harder progressively. It’s a great way to reflect!

#21 Practice a random skill everyday. There are many how-to videos available on YouTube and other video sites. Pen tricks, hand stands, dances, cooking tricks. Broaden your arsenal, especially if there’s a marketing skill you want to develop but presently lack!

#22 Wake up early each day. “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” — Aristotle

#23 Keep a journal. Great for memory, reflection, and especially awesome to look back on from the future and remember the good old times when you did these challenges!

#24 Doing something that scares you every day. Fear is the one thing keeping you from being the best version of yourself. The only way to overcome your fears is to face them head on!

#25 Sign up for BookCrossing.com and give away a book every day. These can be copies of the book you’ve written, books off your bookcase, or a combination of both. Register for your unique BookCrossing ID. Download labels with your ID and put them in the books. Place the books strategically in public places where someone is likely to pick them up: bus stations, on the train, in a public restroom, in a restaurant, etc. Provided that the people who find your books play along, you will be able to go back to the site and track where your books go.

#26 Submit your book to one book review blog/site every day. Google “book reviews for self-published authors” and you’ll likely find dozens of posts, each containing dozens of book review possibilities. 30 days’ worth should be a breeze! Be sure to read and follow the reviewers’ submission guidelines fully. If one reviewer doesn’t accept books in your genre, move on. The next one will!

#27 Don’t complain for an entire day. This one will likely take more than a few days to work up to achieving. Even if you’re a highly positive person, it’s difficult not to utter one negative sentence during any 24-hour span. Don’t get down on yourself if you can’t make it past just one hour — as with everything this takes practice! This one is also great practice for becoming conscious of your thoughts.

#28 Meditate each day. Read this to learn why you should meditate and learn awesome variations on meditation here. The best moments are just after waking up and just before sleep!

#29 Rehearse the pitch for your book each day. Your pitch is your 30-second elevator speech about your book – the one you give when tell someone you’re an author and they inevitably ask, “What’s your book about?” or “What do you write?”  Don’t blow these opportunities by saying something like, “Well, it’s kind of hard to explain,” or boring them with a 15-minute diatribe. Cut to the chase and explain succinctly what the book is about, who it’s intended for, what it will do for them, and the thing it will cause them to do. Then practice it until it rolls off your tongue. Ten minutes a day for 30 days will surely help you get to that place!

#30 Combine challenges. Take a photo of yourself reading a different book at a different location. Do a video interview with a stranger and ask him or her for a business card. Do all of the challenges, a different one each day. Wake up early to make time to meditate, write a gratitude list, and visualize your goal.

Here’s to challenging yourself — and seeing what comes out on the other side!

Laura

__________________

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put an Anatomy of a Book Launchevent like this together, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Letting your imagination run riot

For a split second last night, I felt like the protagonist in a horror movie. It happened during an adventure out to see an artist friend’s work during First Friday – the monthly celebration of art, culture, and strange that takes place in downtown Phoenix. 

Thing is, I forgot that Downtown Phoenix that this particular evening promised  a traffic superstorm: second day of Comicon, Atlanta Braves at the Arizona Diamondbacks, and First Friday. Woo-hoo! Twelve-dollar parking … so glad I had cash with me!

 As I headed toward the Arizona Science Center to see Lisa’s art projected on the dome of the Dorrance Planetareum, I encountered many a kooky character.

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Waited in line almost 20 minutes to buy a bottled water from the Chicken and Waffles vendor only to hear: “No! I’m all sold out of beverages.” Big chalkboard right there with their prices on it – they couldn’t mention the no-beverages situation and save the people who just wanted some relief from the heat the fruitless wait? Oh, wait … Comicon. These people are impervious to heat!

Finally made it to the Science Center, where they were blessedly well-stocked with beverages, from beer to wine to soda … and water.

Then I saw Lisa’s show. We’ve been friends for nearly a dozen years and I love her art, but this was something extraordinary. Most of her paintings range in size from 5″ x 8″ to 16″ x 24″. In other words, not very big. But there they were, projected on the planetarium dome as big as the roof of my house!

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Note the little red dot on the bottom right of the picture – that’s the EXIT sign!

Lisa did a series of paintings featuring comedian Louis CK. This one is delightful … and the creators of the planetarium show animated it so that the wings flitted and the “bee” buzzed all over the dome before settling in the middle of the painting.

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These still photos don’t do her work justice. These were part of a series of five animal totems … each one more gorgeous than the last.

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It was, by far, one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Lisa’s art is absolutely gorgeous – but the animation and the music just made the experience other-worldly. If you’re in Phoenix and missed the show (or will be in Phoenix in the next couple weeks), Lisa’s looking to do a command performance for VIP guests. You can come as my guest, provided you’re willing to do it on a Sunday morning and you email me that you’re interested (laura@writemarketdesign.com).

It was on my way back to my car that the horror-movie moment happened. I was casually strolling, enjoying the coolish 90-degree weather, when I looked north and saw a GIANT mob of people moving toward me. People were beginning to line the street I was walking, so it was only seconds before I realized it must be a Zombie Walk. I figured I had plenty of time to cross the street and make it to my parking garage without incident. Then, the noise behind me got louder. I turned to look, and the mob was turning the corner onto the street where I was walking! Shit, they’re coming this way. It was such a comical thought, because I could imagine the heroine of B horror movie uttering that very line.

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Little zombies. Big zombies. Religious zombies. Alien zombies. French maid zombies. Zombies with green hair. Zombies with tattoos. Every kind of zombie you can imagine – all were out in full force.I am, admittedly, not a fantasy or horror fan. I bought a couple paranormal romances authored by a Facebook pal (and they were actually pretty good!), but overall, these are just not my genres of choice. But it occurred to me that these are a LOT of people’s genres of choice. The 2013 San Diego Comicon is estimated to have generated in excess of $163 million – from 150,000 attendees. Yes, you’re a writer – but do the math! That’s an average of nearly $1,100 bucks a person. Now, not all of that money was spent at the event – hotels, food, car rentals get factored in. But these are still people who are shopping.
What’s my point? If you’re an author in any of these genres and there’s a Comicon anywhere near you, shouldn’t you be there with postcards on a street corner, at the VERY least? Dressed as your main character or villain, if you’re really willing to get in the spirit? Doing impromptu readings, if you’re willing to go the distance?

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Speaking of paranormal fiction … a member of the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup which I facilitate said something priceless at our last meeting. One of our regular features is that we each announce an action step we plan to take before the next meeting. I write those down and post them. Then, at the start of each meeting, we go around the room to check in and see how everyone did with their goals. This accountability piece is really one of the most valuable things we do, in my humble opinion. At any rate, L, who writes under the pseudonym LS Brierfield, said, in discussing her current projects: “One of my characters told me the other day that she wants to have her own series.”

I just found this idea so charming … that L’s characters speak to her, and that she listens to them and takes their comments seriously enough to share with our group. We should all listen to what our characters are telling us! Even nonfiction authors have characters in their stories.

 So, there you have it. My serendipitous lesson cultivated as I wandered among elves and fairies and zombies and out-of-this-word creatures. I think we can all do to get out of our self-imposed boxes and cages and limits every once in a while to see what other creatives are doing.

Here’s to imagination!

Laura

__________________

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put an Anatomy of a Book Launchevent like this together, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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