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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.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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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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Today, we’re proud to share with you another GUEST POST! Please read up, and take some hints about avoiding simple mistakes from Yael Grauer, as she has excellent advice about making the most of your pitches. Please share your thoughts below in the comments section.

Put your best foot forward when pitching editors, agents, and corporate clients

by Yael Grauer

When communicating with potential clients, we all strive to put our best foot forward. And yet editors, agents, and corporate clients are often quick to advise aspiring writers to avoid what seem like glaringly obvious errors.

“You’d be surprised,” they all say, recounting dozens of stories of misspellings, inappropriate inquiries, and instances of bizarre behavior.

We all laugh at these amateur mistakes when they’re made by others, but I’ll reluctantly admit that I once noticed I’d sent an e-mail to a dream client with “copywriter posiion” written as the subject line. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.

How do we avoid these embarrassing errors? Here are five tips to keep in mind.

  1. Check your spelling. This includes that of the person you’re addressing your inquiry to, the company they work for, and the entire text of your e-mail or letter. And not all of these mistakes are easily caught by spellcheck, either. Businesses often have non-standard capitalization, spaces where you wouldn’t think there’d be any, or other unexpected oddities. Being oblivious to these idiosyncrasies makes you seem inattentive to detail, so take the time to show that you’re paying attention.
  2. Double-check the addressee of your inquiry. “This article would be perfect for Woman’s Day,” an editor of a different women’s magazine recalled reading in a query. Her knee-jerk reaction: “Then why don’t you send it to them?” Although the time-consuming process of personalizing each and every pitch isn’t always feasible, at least tailor the addressees of your query letters.
  3. Make sure your pitch is appropriate. So you know how to spell the name of the person you’re trying to reach and the name of their business or publication. Now, make sure the idea you’re pitching them is actually something that will interest them. That means that you don’t want to send a pitch about Android apps to Macworld, or a kid’s story to AARP, or something about making ham for Easter to Tikkun Magazine. It means you’re not going to send a proposal for young adult fiction to an agent who only represents biographies, or poetry to a magazine that only publishes articles. Not sure? Check the FAQ section of their website, or any back issues (if appropriate). If it’s not immediately obvious, check with someone in the know or consider picking up the phone to contact the company in question directly.
  4. Don’t be a stalker. Following up a couple of weeks after you’ve made an inquiry is acceptable. Following up the next day (and the next day and the next day) is not. Sending a holiday card to someone you’ve worked with is a nice touch. Mailing a gift to someone you’ve never worked with is not.
  5. Don’t argue. If someone chooses not to use your services and you’re lucky enough to get an explanation, say thank you and move on. Bickering with the decision-maker about why they’re wrong isn’t only unhelpful, it’s also obnoxious. Try to learn from the feedback, using it to restructure future pitches to either avoid the error you might have made or to avoid the misperception of one. If you suspect you’re not getting the whole story, it’s possible that there’s actually a different, more complicated, or political explanation the person you’re communicating with chose not to share with you. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. You’ll be better for it.

What seemingly obvious errors have you seen people make, and what steps could they have taken to avoid them? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Yael Grauer is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis, MN. She blogs about health, fitness and the freelance life at yaelwrites.com/blog.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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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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Woo-hoo!! It’s a DOUBLE-horn-blowing day!!

As you may have read in our earlier post, we had an exciting event today, our debut guest post by Gwen Tanner. But today’s a day of firsts and a day of guest posts, as we are very pleased to refer you to OUR guest post at IndieAuthorCouncil.com.

Please click the link and make sure to read our post: TOP MARKETING MISTAKES INDIE AUTHORS MAKE. There are 8 of them, and some are doozies! I’m sure that if you’ve been following us for a while and have earned your SBM* creds, you’re not making any of them … but if you’re new, you’ll want to be on the safe side and read up.

The good news is that you it’s never too late to learn, apply, and correct course on any marketing campaign or strategy, even one that seems stalled in the starting gate.

And while we’re tooting, if you have a book/writing/literary/marketing blog and would like us to write a guest post for you, please drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com.

Happy posting!

Laura & Marcie

*Savvy Book Marketer

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If you would like to contribute a guest post, please contact us at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com.

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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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Giant excitement here at the Marcie Brock blog. Today, we’re proud to share with you our very first GUEST POST! Woo-hoo!! That means our 9th category goes into effect today. Please read up, and take some wisdom from Gwen Tanner, as she has excellent advice about a way to further monetize the content of your book. Please share your thoughts below in the comments section.

Repurpose the Content of Your Book to Create Online Courses

by Gwen Tanner

As an author, you have a great advantage when it comes to passive income opportunities: You have knowledge that others want! This puts you in an excellent position to profit from your knowledge by sharing and teaching others the skills you have.

Let’s talk about people for a moment.

  1. People always NEED to learn something: they are starting a family; they’re in the market for a new home; they need to plan for retirement.
  2. People always WANT to learn something: they would love to start crocheting; they desire to get in better shape; they dream of becoming rich.

The problem is that most people don’t have the time or money to take a formal course to learn these things.

This is where you, as an experienced author, can jump in. You can create online courses (or ecourses) to fulfill these needs using the knowledge you already have. You probably don’t even have to do much more work than you already did when you wrote your book. The content is the same – you just put it into the form of a “course.” This may mean creating exercises or adding some “how-to” steps, but it’s essentially recycling the same material.

The benefit to you as an author is that an online course will typically have a higher perceived value than a physical book or an ebook. I’d say the sky is the limit when pricing an ecourse, because you’re taking on a little more responsibility than you would with a book. And with that responsibility, you’re branding yourself as an expert who can get your readers (i.e., students) from point A to point B in a logical way.  That’s the beauty of selling online courses.

The sites listed below allow you to create and sell your very own online courses. All you do is upload your courses once and sell them over and over again, receiving payment directly into your PayPal account.

UDEMY (Free). Decide on your topic then upload your course content. Then set the price for your course and receive 70 percent of the revenue.

ODIJOO (Free). Create your original online course and sell seats to access it. You will keep 90% of the course enrollment fee. You can even create your own “campus,” which can become your online business. You can also sell your content to other instructors who can use it in their classes.

LITMOS (Monthly Fee). With this service, you can use your own domain name and brand your landing page. You receive 100 percent of your course fee directly into your PayPal account. The monthly fees for Litmos increase once you get more students, but the thinking is that if you have more students, you will be able to cover the costs.

Gwen Tanner provides guidance, tips, how-tos, and more on creating quality information products that stand out from the rest. Visit her blog for the inspiration and motivation to complete your next product.

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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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