Posts Tagged ‘comfort zone’

Groundhog’s Day book marketing messages from Punxsutawney Phil and Phil Connors

Marcie - Groundhog Day

When you hear the words “Groundhog Day,” who are you more likely to think of? Punxsutawney Phil, THE groundhog for whom the day is named, or Bill Murray, star of the ubiquitous movie of the same name?

There are book marketing lessons to be drawn from both.

First, all is not as it might seem. The way Punxsutawney Phil is said to determine if winter is on its way out and spring is around the corner is by whether or not he sees his shadow. To me, it’s always seemed counterintuitive that Phil’s not seeing his shadow (cloudy day) means winter’s at its end, while seeing his shadow (sunny day) means 6 more weeks of winter.

So where might all not be as it seems when it comes to your book marketing? One place is in your results with things like blogging or social media. When you’re just ramping up and you’re not seeing many results (it feels like no one’s reading your blog and you’re not attracting many friends or followers on Facebook or Twitter), it may seem as though the effort is futile. On the contrary, my dear SBMs!* Push through the “it’s not working!” thoughts and keep on keeping on. Far too many bloggers quit, just as they were about to turn the corner on the traction they were seeking. Keep blogging. Keep Facebooking and Tweeting. Do your research, and get better at it, to be sure. But don’t quit.

Phil Connors (Bill Murray’s character in the movie), on the other hand, offers a seemingly opposite lesson. In realizing the futility of his effort to break the cycle of the recurring day (he wakes up every morning and it’s 6 a.m. on Groundhog’s Day AGAIN), he turns caddish behavior into an art form, seducing women, stealing money, driving recklessly, and eventually getting thrown in jail. Yet nothing changes.

You’ve more than likely heard the “definition of insanity”: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same result. I’ve always thought it’s much less the definition of insanity than human nature; in clinging to what we know, we remain in our comfort zones. There’s only one problem with remaining in our comfort zones: It’s pretty much impossible to grow there.

So the second lesson is to selectively stop doing what you’ve been doing. Yes – I said keep blogging and keep posting your tweets and Facebook updates. But stop looking for reasons people won’t buy your book. Stop telling yourself there are lots of other books out there like yours, so why should people buy the one you wrote? Stop hiding behind the safety of exclusively promoting your book online and get out there to meet real, live people! STOP the thinking and behaviors that are sabotaging your success.

It’s not necessarily the best books – or products in general – that rise to the top, although a high-quality book sure helps. It’s consistency of message. Consistency of marketing. Consistency of posting. Consistency of touching your mailing list. Being there, being there, being there. Stay the course. Tap all the resources you have – and if you don’t have any resources yet, go out and get some.

Happy Groundhog’s Day to you – whether or not spring comes soon to your little corner of the World of Books.


*Savvy Book Marketer

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Your thoughts grow the garden of your success – do you want weeds or flowers?

In line at the grocery store yesterday, I overheard a conversation between the clerk and the woman in front of me.  She seemed to be having trouble with the credit card machine until the clerk reassured her it was working properly  albeit a little slowly. “Oh, that’s good. I thought I broke it. That’s usually my job – breaking things.”

YIKES!! My self-sabotage language meter spiked into the red zone! Doesn’t she realize what she’s saying? I almost wondered aloud. If that’s true, it’s no doubt a self-fulfilling prophesy. She tells herself she always breaks things, and lo and behold, she always breaks things.

We’ve talked about how our thoughts and self-talk affect our results before, but I felt compelled to write on it today, because there’s more to this story. As I was getting in my car after purchasing my own groceries, I noticed the same lady pulling out in something of a beat-up sedan. There, on the back of her car was this bumper sticker:

Whatever I might have surmised previously, the language I heard this woman use in the checkout lane wasn’t an anomaly. She probably spends her life wondering why nothing goes her way, and yet she wears the reason right there on her rear bumper: she creates that for herself!

What does this have to do with your success as an author, publisher, speaker, and expert in your field? EVERYTHING! If you’re not seeing the success you want and feel you deserve, a good place to start your examination of why is in your self-talk. What are you telling yourself, day in and day out? Are you constantly reenforcing the message that you’re a great author and people will love reading your books – or are you sending yourself little digs like, “Who’s going to want to read this anyway? There are a hundred other books on this subject all better than mine”?

The thing is, we all do it. Even those of us most practiced at positive self-talk occasionally fall into the trap of self-doubt and self-sabotaging messaging to ourselves. The thing to do about it is recognize it, and then make every effort to reprogram your neural pathways to create positive messages instead. One of the best ways you can do that is by working with a coach, mentor, or other unbiased individual who will help you notice your patterns and adjust them.  Once you start making these adjustments for yourself, however, be ready to begin noticing all the other people out there who are still trapped in self-discouraging language.

Coaching can be viewed one of two ways: as an expense or as an investment. I know for a fact that the $3,000+ I spent on coaching this last calendar year has moved me forward substantially, in terms of my own expectations for myself, as well as in my results.

You certainly don’t have to hire a coach to see positive results, but doing so will help you cut your learning curve to a fraction of what it might be on your own. And if you look at almost every successful person you admire, chances are they have a coach who supports and encourages them to keep on making progress.

I read a quote yesterday that really struck me, a new take on an old aphorism: Don’t believe everything you hear think.

If your thoughts haven’t been so empowering lately, I encourage you to shake them up a bit so you start to see different results!



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


Visit our website to read up on more articles on motivation and other tips for writers, including a couple from my coach, Karen Gridley – the Excuse Remover. If you need help getting out of your own way so you can write, publish, and market YOUR book, call us today for your complimentary 30-minute consultation! 602.518.5376

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Make your networking pay off by FOLLOWING UP!

Much of this content is taken from our October 19, 2011 post.

We spent a few weeks discussing the importance of networking as a tool for authors to build their platforms. Here’s a recap of those posts.

Finally, we’re winding up with some advice about the single most important aspect of networking, and the one that is often the most overlooked: FOLLOW UP.

An All-Too-Realistic Scenario

Ever since he wrote his book, Taylor’s been envisioning it as the stepping stone to a keynote speaking career. While volunteering at a large community event, he meets the cousin of a booking agent for a prestigious speakers bureau. Taylor is an SBM* and he’s taken Marcie’s advice, rehearsing his pitch till it flows off his tongue effortlessly, so he makes an excellent impression on the cousin. The cousin promises to introduce Taylor to the booking agent, giving Taylor her card and asking him to be sure to drop her a message in a day or two.

At long last it’s all falling into place for Taylor. But he never gets to meet the booking agent – and not for the reason you might think. It’s not that the booking agent declined to represent him, but rather that he never sent the e-mail.

Sounds crazy, but people in situations just like this commit similar career-sabotaging acts every day. Fear of success shows up in many, many ways; failure to follow up is one of the most common. It’s also a situation over which you have 100 percent control.

Perhaps your situation is not quite so extreme. You’ve just met the speaker coordinator for a small community group. But you hit it off and they like you and appear interested in having you come to address their next meeting. They’ll even let you set up a table at the back of the room from which to sell your books. Are you primed to respond in a timely manner, or will you fall into one of the following traps?

Self-Sabotaging Excuses

If they were to explain it to you, people’s reasons for failing to follow up might seem quite understandable:

  • They haven’t been trained to follow up and they don’t know where to begin. Even the simplest tasks usually have multiple steps. When we don’t have systems in place or haven’t completely mapped out our strategies, fear of the unknown can cause us to freeze, sometimes keeping us from starting at all.
  • They tend to overthink things. Sure it’s great to have a plan, but beware making things much more complicated than they need to be. Some of us tend to “what if” ourselves right out of good decisions. “What if they don’t respond?” “What if she was just being nice?” You won’t know until you pick up that phone or send those e-mails.
  • They fall prey to the Perfectionist Monster. Certain people get bogged down in the details about how much there is to do and wanting to do it perfectly. Perfectionists are too often perfect at just one thing: watching the door hit them on the way out after someone else has gotten there first. Follow this mantra instead: DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT.
  • They don’t prioritize their time. Much like having a system, knowing one’s priorities is essential. But anyone whose time budget is out of control can allow even the most important things to slip through the cracks.
  • Sometimes they just get bored. For adrenaline junkies, it’s the thrill of the chase that excites them. Once they’ve “arrived,” they’re quickly ready to move onto the next challenge and, as a result, feel that following up is the routine, unexciting part of pitching or prospecting. How many books do you think these folks sell?
  • While it is only an excuse, stress is very real and often quite debilitating. When we don’t manage our processes, have no sense of time, and/or procrastinate out of perfectionism, it’s no wonder we get stressed out. Stress is a distraction that can cause depression and other paralyzing behaviors that stop us from making what might otherwise be effortless progress.

These are all reasons smart, would-be-successful people fail to follow up. However, when you dig past the surface, they are just superficial excuses. What it really comes down to is that every one of these folks is likely afraid of success.

The only way through this fear
is to change your mindset.

Regardless of what you’ve heard from the people in your life … regardless of your own negative self-talk … it is imperative that you realize that you are worthy of succeeding. Remind yourself that you have the skills, contacts, experience, support – whatever you need – to watch your book(s) power their way to the top of your markets. And then pick up the phone, send that text, or message your new friend on Facebook. Follow Nike’s advice and just do it™ – and then be ready to embrace the success you deserve.

Tips to Improve Your Follow-Up Skills

  • Make notes about the person with whom you are trying to connect. These might include anything from  their hobbies and interests to their spouse’s name to their alma mater to their future plans. Doing so will make your follow-up conversation easier.
  • Pre-arrange the follow-up. Before you end the initial meeting, schedule a day and time for a subsequent conversation. ” Does next Wednesday morning at 10:15 work for you?”
  • Do it right now, while you’re thinking about it. Take action before your gremlin has a chance to talk you out of it. Just pick up the phone!
  • Don’t take things personally. Regardless of how well you employ your follow-up plans, you will find people who’ve forgotten about your appointment, are busy, have changed their minds, or may even cut you off. Do you remember the old deodorant commercial? Never let them see you sweat. And don’t take the situation personally. Just make another plan to follow up again and continue the conversation.
  • Be personal. Address your new friend by name and review the issues you touched on in your initial meeting. In addition, do your homework and if the opportunity presents itself, be ready to offer other useful, relevant information to further the conversation.
  • Be thorough, but be brief. Remind the person of where you met them (if it’s a brand new contact) and why you’re calling so they understand precisely why you are connecting with them. Remember, however, he or she is probably busy and may have a limited attention span. Make sure to limit your conversation to details they will relate to.
  • Become a resource. Remember that your goal is to create relationships, so avoid focusing entirely on yourself, your book, your request. Let your new friend know that you are a resource. Make them confident that knowing you and building a connection with you can be of significant assistance to them in some way.
  • Grab their attention. Be creative with your follow-up. If you’re connecting virtually, consider including multimedia elements such as relevant graphics or video. If you’re meeting them in person, take with you high-quality leave-behind materials. Leave them with a good impression.
  • Provide a clear call to action. Make clear at the end of your conversation or message your request for the next steps. Keep it simple, but be specific and tell them exactly what you want them to do next and by when.
  • Never be perceived as a pest! Though you may be bursting with excitement over the possibility that this connection could lead to the next phase of your success, do not under any circumstance chase the person. This will not only make you look desperate and pathetic, but it’s also amateurish and annoying. Keep in touch regularly, but don’t ever be the person who makes this person think, “Oh, God! Not him again!”

One important thing to keep in mind is that you only know what you know. So don’t fall into the trap of making assumptions. When someone doesn’t immediately return our phone call or e-mail message, we very often assume the worst – they’re just not interested – even if we have no information to back up that assumption. Sure, it might mean that they’re not interested. Or it might mean they had a family emergency and they’ve put their work on hold for a while.

Think about your own lack of follow up – the very topic of this post. Are you not following up because you’re not interested? Sure, once in a while that’s true. But equally often, you’re very interested – nevertheless, you don’t get around to the follow up for some reason. If the other person were to contact you, would you jump all over the chance to resurrect the conversation? If your answer is yes, put yourself in their shoes, and quit making assumptions.

Follow-up is your friend. It is one of the most important tools in your networking toolbox. Make my friend Helen Goodman, of Primo Promos, your role model. Helen has the most outstanding follow-up skills of anyone I have met in all the years I’ve been in business. She gets back to you the same day, goes out of her way to get you accurate quotes and help you order your products, and she does it all with a cheerful attitude.

So what’s YOUR follow-up plan. Share your tips and ideas in the comments section below. And in the meantime, happy networking!


*Savvy Book Marketer


We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


Visit our website to read up on more networking tips and advice, including links, ways to make connections, and day-to-day networking scenarios. If you’d like help setting up YOUR book marketing strategy, call us today for your complimentary 30-minute consultation! 602.518.5376

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Five ways authors should be like Christopher Columbus

Today is Columbus Day, a U.S. national holiday since 1937 that commemorates Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World on October 12, 1492. New authors can take many lessons from the famed explorer. Here are five of the most important.

1.  BE WILLING TO TAKE A RISK. Columbus is best-known for discovering the Americas, a continent previously unknown to Europeans. It wasn’t his goal, but it never would have happened if he hadn’t taken the risk to make his voyages in the first place. Like Columbus, be willing to jump into your book marketing with both feet! If you’re tepid, your results will reflect your hesitation.

2.  GET GREAT SPONSORS. The Italian-born explorer couldn’t have taken three ships out on his whirlwind voyage on his own dime. He had the backing of the Spanish monarchs, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. What individual, business, or organization with deeper pockets and/or a longer reach than you would have on your own might be willing to help you get your book get out into the world?

3.  HAVE A PLAN. Columbus originally intended to chart a westward sea route to China, India, and the imagined gold and spice island of Asia. Where do you want to go with your book? Whom do you want to read it? How many copies do you want to sell? Where and how do you want to promote it? You must know the answers to these questions before you begin your book marketing – the only way to do that is with a detailed plan.

4.  ALLOW FOR COURSE CORRECTIONS.  Instead of reaching Asia, Columbus landed in the Bahamas. Later he tried again and came across Hispaniola. So let’s say your marketing plan doesn’t go exactly according to plan. How can you make the best of the results you do achieve, and remain open to the possibility of heading in a different direction?

5.  KEEP AT IT!  Christopher Columbus didn’t quit after his first “unsuccessful” journey. Between 1492 and 1503, Columbus completed FOUR round-trip voyages between Spain and the Americas. And we’re not talking a speedboat or a yacht, here. This was no easy journey to do once, let alone four times. Be diligent about your marketing pursuits and keep at it. It’s easy to get discouraged when you work at it and work at it and still see few results. However, far too many people throw in the towel just before they reach the tipping point when they would have started to gain traction. This is true of blogging, social media, and many other aspects of your marketing strategy. I advice my clients not to even begin looking for results for the first six months, and to keep at it even if it “doesn’t seem to be working.”

So how will you take a page out of Columbus’ book and apply it to YOUR book marketing campaign?



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


Visit our website to view/download our Timeline of a Book, where you’ll note that marketing your book should start as soon as you begin writing it. If you’d like help setting up YOUR book marketing strategy, call us today for your complimentary 30-minute consultation! 602.518.5376

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Want to stand out in your networking circles? Get involved!

Well, we took a little hiatus (short for us!) to do some much-needed work and revamping of the Write | Market | Design website. It’s not done – a good website is never done – but it’s vastly improved. Many of the broken links are no longer broken. We’ve added some depth and grit to our pages. Feel free to take a look and give us some feedback.


Now we’ll move on to our discussion about the benefit of getting involved in your networking groups.

Many years ago, I knew a man from the same organization where we did the Hokey Pokey. Stan was a Melaleuca distributor and I remember two other things about him: (1) he publicly bitched and moaned at every opportunity about being single and wanting to meet a woman, and (2) he complained that after a year with our group, he’d never gotten any business from it. Of course, all he did was show up for the meetings 5 minutes before they started, recited his boring 30-second intro during the meeting, tried to sell the people he met on the value of a Melaleuca membership, and left 5 minutes after the meeting ended. Is it any wonder he never got any business?

About the same time, I was asked to act as greeter at a meeting for a different group. I went to the front door of the hotel where we met, greeting the guests and members as they arrived and directing them to our meeting room. A new member walked in, and I greeted her by name: “Hello, Kerri!” I don’t know who was more surprised that I knew her name, she or I? After my initial shock wore off, I realized that I knew her name because I was an officer, and part of that responsibility involved getting to know every member – even the new ones.

In Phoenix, as I’ve mentioned, there’s a TON of competition for our networking time and dollars. As a result, many groups are struggling for membership as they find themselves redundant and/or ineffective. The groups that thrive have active members who care about the mission, vision, and future of their organizations.

Most networking groups have boards of officers made up of volunteers. The better ones have regular planning and strategy meetings. Larger groups also invite non-office members to take active roles by serving on committees.

If you want to increase your visibility and improve your networking ROI, get involved in the leadership of your favorite group. Will it take time? Yes. How much depends on the specific role and the nature of the particular group. Will it benefit you? OF COURSE! You will develop leadership skills, come out of your shell if you’re the quiet type, and be visible so that all the members become familiar with you and your business. Most importantly, you will become an indispensable part of the team that makes your group function properly.

As my friend Katreena Hayes-Wood (who needs no help to come out of her shell) says, “It’s time to step in, step up, and step out!”

Well, we’re about at the end of our Author Networking series. One more post about the importance of follow-up. See you then!



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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How to alienate people and lose business before you even get started

So you finally decide to follow Marcie’s advice and get out of the office to attend a networking event. You’re not much of a socializer, but it’s been a while since you’ve talked with anyone besides Shroeder, your schnauzer, and your book is due to be released in just a few months. It’s time to start building that platform and making connections! You diligently scan Meetup.com, the newspaper, and other notices about groups in your area and you think you found one that will appeal to you.

You arrive at the venue, shrug off the trepidation, and walk in to find yourself warmly greeted. Maybe this won’t be so bad, you think to yourself. You’re no sooner seated and have said hello to the person next to you, when a guy in a top hat comes out and, much like a circus announcer, commands the whole room to stand up, shouting through a bullhorn, no less. He turns on some raucous music, and soon the whole room is clapping and swaying. NO, NO, NO! you think. This is NOT what I came here to do!

OK – that’s a bit of a far-fetched scenario. But it is possible that you’ll set out to attend a networking event to meet new people and sometimes you’re invited to participate in an icebreaker activity that just seems REALLY stupid or ridiculous. Your first instinct may be to shut down, with the adamant thought: I am NOT doing this!

A number of years ago, I made the attendees at one of my business development groups do the Hokey Pokey at the start of the meeting. Really! Did people think it was silly? Of course they did. But those who allowed themselves to participate  laughed, enjoyed it, and wound up talking about it for weeks afterward!

That Hokey Pokey lesson is really the whole point of networking: Only when we put our whole selves in can we expect to see any major results. If you choose to sit out of group exercises because you think, “This is stupid,” “I’m too cool/smart/sophisticated to do this,” or “What will my guest think of me?” you’re missing out on a great chance for connection.

If you have a tough time joining in, I invite you to rethink your resistance. For one thing, you won’t be the only one looking foolish – the whole group is participating! And if you watch them, I’ll bet you see that they’re having fun. By sitting out, you’re demonstrating that you can’t relax and just let loose for a while. Sure, sometimes these group exercises just outright flop. But even that can be an opportunity to shine: Instead of being the first one to blame the organizer, be the first to offer your support. They will remember and appreciate you!

A great deal of business success involves stepping out of your comfort zone. If your next networking event presents you with such an opportunity, I challenge you to take it! You may  be pleasantly surprised at the eventual results.

Our next topic in our Author Networking series is about the importance of getting involved in the groups you join.



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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Marketing lessons from the cast of “Saturday Night Live”

A couple days ago I did a post about guerrilla marketing. I ended the post by encouraging you: “Guerrilla/mischief marketing is just a piece of the puzzle, but an important piece, so please don’t neglect it out of fear of looking a little foolish. Just relax and have fun with it.”

The “fear of looking foolish” part got me to thinking about people who look foolish for a living, and the lessons we can learn from them. From the title of the post, perhaps you think I’m talking about Jimmy Fallon, who’s now pitching for Capital One, but that’s not really who I have in mind. I’m thinking more along the lines of the current cast – people who get paid to stand up in front of a live audience every week on a show that’s broadcast to millions around the world and sometimes make utter fools of themselves.

If you saw the movie Bridesmaids, you saw the softer, subtler side of Kristen Wiig – but if you watch Saturday Night Live with any regularity, you get to see her wacky and sometimes just plain bizarre performances as a whole host of zany characters. Here’s the thing: I’m sure at some point in her career (or life), Kristen Wiig – as well as Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers, Bobby Moynihan, Andy Samberg, Jason Sudeikis, Kenan Thompson, and the others – must have thought, “This is soooo embarrassing.” But she pushed herself beyond the fear and developed an amazing talent.

Now I’m not suggesting you abandon writing to become an improv or sketch comic – unless it’s what you really want to do. But I am suggesting that getting over ourselves and our fear of embarrassment are really good ideas if we ever want to grow beyond our comfort zones and achieve any real measure of success. As you well know, the best product doesn’t always dominate – it’s the product with the best marketing. This is also true of books. As an author-marketer, how willing are you to go all out to sell your books? Would you don a penguin costume? Would you walk up to someone famous you met by chance and pitch them? Would you make a hilarious video? Or are you too worried about what people might think?

Seriously – can you ever imagine an SNL production meeting when they’re assigning new skits and hearing Kristin Wiig say, “No – I’m not doing that because it will make me look stupid”? If you’ve never seen her, make it a point to do so. Whether you don’t like SNL, you watch something else in that time slot, or you’ve just got a way more active social calendar than I do, go find an episode that features Kristin Wiig and study it! There are always reruns, Hulu, YouTube – really, you have no excuse.

And then if you’re inspired, go join a Toastmasters club, take an improv class, buddy up with a stand-up comic, or just practice talking to strangers in line at the grocery store. Chances are you will uncover something fantastic if you just give yourself permission to look a little foolish.

Happy comfort-zone busting!



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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