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Do You See What I See?

April 29, 2020-We’ve all seen those photos online that look like inkblots, and the question is always, “What do you see?” Of course, it’s all about perception. One person may look at the image and see a spider where another may look at it and see an angel. The point is perspective is essential, especially for authors.

Around here, we do our best to ensure that when we write, it’s from a different point of view. Let me explain; in my upcoming book King Midas, I tell the story from the perspective of King Midas’ barber. Why do I do that? Because in my opinion, it’s more interesting. The fable of King Midas has been told a thousand times before with a few differences here and there, but usually not many. I wanted to put a different spin on things and put my readers in a place where perhaps a well-known story is totally different than we thought it was.

One of the things that inspired me to write a different take on stories was something called twisted tales. A great example of this is an audiobook titled, As Old As Time, and it’s based on Beauty and the Beast. But instead of rehashing the same old story, the author decided to mix it up a bit. The premise is that Belle and the Beast are living happily ever after in the castle when one day, they find out that it was Belle’s mother who cursed the Beast. Wow! Talk about a totally different spin on a classic story that opens an entirely new can of worms! Writing from a different perspective can open up your writing and give you infinite new possibilities for your work. Here are some more examples to get your creativity flowing:

  • The Wizard of Oz-What if they had written from a perspective of Dorothy’s ruby slippers and how they saw the world through their own “eyes.”
  • Aladdin-What does the magic carpet have to say about the adventure, or how does Rajah the tiger see the events unfold?
  • The Jungle Book-What about the villain Shere Khan? How did he become a villain? Why does he see the world the way he does, and was he always that way? What events unfolded in his life made him so jaded?

You get the point. Every time you sit down to write, it’s crucial to choose a perspective that will entertain and allow your audience to see the world in a little bit of a different way. This helps open up the minds and hearts of your readers. Happy Writing, X LLB

 

 

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Don’t Let This Happen to You

April 27, 2020– Did you know that most self-published authors sell less than a total of  100 copies of their book? That’s around $1000-$2000 for lifetime sales which is pretty dismal if you ask me. People write books for a lot of reasons some of them being: It’s a bucket list item, because they have a story to tell, or because they want the ability to say, “I wrote a book,” or “I’m an author,” and the list goes on. I suppose it’s because I’m a publisher, with a marketing and advertising background, that I look at the book business a little bit differently than if I was solely an author. But, just because you’re a self-published author, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think of your writing as a business, IT IS.  Here are some tips on how to ramp up your book sales:

  1.  Build a platform. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty?” This applies here. I hope that you built your author platform before you published your book. If not, you can start right now. Pick the social media platforms that work for you, be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube etc. and be sure to engage with your audience. Let people know why you wrote your book, what inspires you, what books you love, and where they can get yours!
  2. Build a network. Join a  group, build relationships, and connect with people. It’s important to be surrounded by people who are just like you, but it’s even MORE important to be around people who are different than you. Why? Because you’ll learn the most from them. They’ll have ideas and suggestions that will push your thinking out of the box. The most brilliant ideas I’ve ever had for selling my books came from people who were NOT in the book business.
  3. Build your brand. YOU are the brand. Make sure you represent your book well.  Is your message consistent and clear or is it conflicting? The way you dress, the way you speak, how often and what you post, all matter. When you go to events and visit schools/businesses to present your book, your brand matters. Your marketing materials need to be branded in your colours, with your logo, and with the proper fonts and messages to get people interested in what you have to say.
  4. Build your list. Where do you want to see your book and how do you get it there? Do you want to see it in airports around the world? What must you do to make that happen? Do you want to find your book in all major bookstores? Who do you need to contact and what happens next? Which publications do you want to be interviewed by? Build your list of where to sell your book and be relentless in going after the things, people, and places that you want!

Of course, the above list is not extensive. Selling your book is a huge undertaking, but don’t be one of the many self-published authors who make little money. If you have self-published a book and don’t know where to start with marketing it, drop us a line because our team of experts can help! Email us today at pandapublishing8@gmail.com for a price quote.

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Lunch Lady Heroes

April 24, 2020– I was lucky enough to meet Jarrett when I was in New York attending the SCBWI winter conference last year. He’s a fantastic speaker and a lovely guy. Check out his Ted Talk about Why Lunch Ladies are Heroes and his graphic novel!

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It’s Time

April 22, 2020– What if I told you that you could totally transform your life by doing one simple thing? Would you believe me? Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s true, but there’s a catch…You have to decide which one thing. As writers we are often absent-minded, disorganized dreamers who would lose our head if it wasn’t screwed on; I may be only referring to myself in that last sentence, but I digress. So, what is it that you must do right now to change your entire writing life? Here’s the secret: CHANGE ONE THING.

Yep, that’s it. That’s the magic right there. You know the areas of your writing life that need improving, but for ease of explanation, I’ve included some examples below. Pick ONE thing to change because studies show that making too many changes at once, results in failure. Once you’ve changed one thing and have stuck with it for 21 days, pick another thing to change while still adhering to your new habit.

1. Change your frequency. If you’re writing infrequently it’s time to increase your daily word count. Make a schedule and stick to it. Try to write as many days in a row that you can. It will help you develop discipline and a routine; before you know it, you’ll have finished writing that novel.

2. Change your mindset. Get away from negative thinking. I cannot stress this enough-what you focus on EXPANDS, so concentrate on what you WANT. See yourself as a professional and start showing up as her. If you’re not published yet or have received a bunch of rejection letters, welcome to the club, that just means that with every NO, you’re that much closer to a YES.

3. Change your space. Is your desk or writing area a disaster? Do you lose the same things over and over again, such as pens and pages of your manuscript? Do you spend more time looking for stuff than you do writing? If yes, it’s time to make a change and get organized.

4. Change your timing. Get up earlier or go to bed later if that’s what it takes to change your writing life. Don’t wait for inspiration to write because if you do, I promise you won’t write another word. Writing and being an author is a discipline that needs commitment. We don’t write when we’re inspired, we write and then the inspiration shows up. Set a schedule and stick to it.

Pick your area of weakness and change one thing about it. Old ways won’t open new doors. X LLB

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I Have a Dream

April 20, 2020-How often do you dream? Do you remember your dreams when you wake up, and how can you harness your subconscious to solve problems in your writing?

Studies show that one of the reasons we don’t remember our dreams is because we do not awake in the same position that we dreamt in. If there’s too much movement, we forget. For example, if you fall asleep on your left side and wake up on your right, chances are you won’t remember what you dreamt about.

Personally, I am a vivid dreamer and 5 nights out of 7, I’ll have dreams that I can remember. Of course, there are some nights that I don’t dream/don’t remember my dream. But as writers, how can we use a dream state to improve things in our work?

  1. Have a dream diary. Do you write down your dreams? I usually do because I like to refer back to them. I enjoy having a record of different times in my life that I was going through and how my dreams reflected my inner thoughts. Another fun thing to do with your dream diary is the following exercise; take the images from your dream and write a short story. This is so helpful when dealing with periods of writer’s block and lack of inspiration.  I keep a pen and my dream diary beside my bed so that I can write things down immediately, before they’re lost forever.
  2. Invest in a dream dictionary. A dream dictionary helps decode your dreams and gives you answers to imagery. For example, did you know that dreaming of a broken glass can signify broken promises, negativity in your waking life, disappointment and shattered dreams? You can use these symbols as breadcrumbs throughout your work to make it more rounded and interesting.
  3. Work it into your story. Some of my dreams have made it onto the pages of my novels. In Obsessed with Her, there is a character that awakes from a nightmare, and it was something that I had dreamt about. Work your dreams and nightmares into your story carefully. Publishers and readers don’t like dream sequences, and we feel ripped off when the whole story was “just a dream.”
  4. Tap into your subconscious. The subconscious mind is a very powerful thing and is an excellent problem solver. When I’m struggling with a part in a book, or I’ve written myself into a corner, or I’m suffering from writer’s block, I write down the problem and ask my subconscious mind to fix it while I sleep. Then I go to bed. Sometimes the answer is immediately the next morning, sometimes it will come to me in a dream, and sometimes it takes a few days. How you program your subconscious mind is also imperative to your success; it does not know the difference between reality and fantasy.

Here’s hoping that all of your writing dreams come true! X LLB

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Who Was the First?

April 17, 2020– Check out this super cool Ted Talk about the world’s first author! Soraya Field Fiorio explains:

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Pseudo-who?

April 15, 2020– Many very famous (and not so famous) authors (including yours truly) use pseudonyms. Let’s find out who they are and why they use fake names to write under. Pseudo=Phoney, artificial, not genuine Nym=Name.

  1. To write more than 1 book per year. Stephen King used a pseudonym so that he could write multiple books a year. One book per year is the industry standard in publishing, but he found a way to get around the issue by simply changing his name. You wouldn’t want to do this too often because you need to build a following of loyal readers, and that takes time and effort.
  2. To switch genres-I personally do this to protect my young readers from Googling my darker works. Lacey L. Bakker is the name I use for writing kids’ books, and L.L. Colling is the pen name I use to write my adult thrillers. If my young readers do an online search, they won’t find my adults-only books.
  3. To take the pressure off– J.K. Rowling is a perfect example of this. She wanted to write without the pressure and the hype of Harry Potter, so she changed her name and wrote The Cuckoo’s Calling.
  4. To switch publishers-The truth is that publishers own your works and the name that you put on that work. If you change publishers, you’ll have to use a different name, especially if you’re still under contract with the original publisher you’ve signed with.

I’m going to caution you on one thing; if you write a book that has sensitive information in it and you think that by changing your name, you’ll be able to write anonymously, that is not the case. Eventually, something will lead back to you, and you’ll be found out. Also, what if your book really takes off and people want to meet you in person for interviews and book signings? Choose your name wisely! X LLB

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Fight Me

April 13, 2020– We know that every story must have conflict and resolution, but did you know that there are six different types of story conflict? Let’s explore:

  1. Person vs. Person– This is the most common type of conflict in novels. It is the protagonist vs. antagonist (hero vs. villain). A good example of this type of conflict is…well…take any Disney movie; Gaston vs. the Beast, Ariel vs. Ursula, Mulan vs. the Huns and so on. There are too many examples to list of this kind of conflict!
  2. Person vs. Nature– This means conflict between characters and environment such as natural disasters etc. Some perfect examples of this type of conflict are the books/movies Twister or Dante’s Peak.
  3. Person vs. Self- I like to think that my novel Becoming James Cass (coming soon from Pandamonium Publishing House) is an excellent example of the conflict between the main character and himself. He’s always struggling to fight off his demons and has a ton of inner-conflict and self-destructiveness.
  4. Person vs. SocietyThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is an excellent example of this type of conflict. Struggles between individuals and the social codes in their world are what this type of conflict is all about.
  5. Person vs. Supernatural– We’re talking about pretty much any book by Stephen King. Pet Sematary is one of my favourites, but so is It…these are excellent examples of conflict between characters and the supernatural/paranormal world.
  6. Person vs. TechnologyMachinia by Paul Moscarella (coming October 2020 from Pandamonium Publishing House) is an example of Protagonist vs. Technology. This is the conflict between character vs. scientific discovery. Also see, Terminator and Robocop for some other great examples.

What type of conflict does your novel have? Happy writing, X LLB

 

 

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The Perks of Being an Author

April 8, 2020-Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope that you’re having a great week so far. As I sit in my home office during self-isolation, I can’t help but be very grateful to be in the line of work that I’m in. Of course, I miss the public events, book signings, and opportunities to meet my readers face to face, but I know that sometime soon, I’ll be able to do that. Have you ever wondered what the perks are to being an author? Here are some of my favourite things that  writing has done for me:

1. Friendship– I have met so many delightful people over the years through conferences, social media, and events. Some of us have stayed in touch and connect frequently through social media. It’s always fun to meet an old group of friends at writing conferences and to make new ones! I’m so grateful for each friendship that’s been cultivated through writing.

2. World Travel-New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, and London are a few of the cities that I’ve been to because of my career as an author. I love travelling so much, especially when it’s for continuing education to improve my writing skills. Learning new ideas and ways of conveying those thoughts are what keep my mind sharp and my storylines interesting. Next on the list are Paris, Moscow, and Milan once things settle down!

3. Seeing your book on the shelf or in a major publication-This is a pretty cool feeling; walking into a book store and seeing your book on the shelf or reading an article that you wrote with your name on it in a major magazine is kind of surreal and it never gets old. A lot of other fun things happen with this as well, such as being chosen as a featured author at Indigo or Barnes and Noble and being interviewed for different media outlets to talk about your books. I’ve been fortunate enough to have my work in Women’s World Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Best Health Magazine, Angie’s Diary, and newspapers.

4. Additional opportunities-There are things that never occurred to me when I first became an author, such as the fantastic opportunities that I would have in different fields. In the past I’ve been a speaker at The Ontario Library Super Conference, I’ve been the guest presenter to students in almost 100 classrooms, I’ve given talks and taught classes on writing at various campuses, and I was nominated for Best Local Author in 2019 for my city. I’m so grateful for each opportunity that comes my way, and there are so many things that are available to authors to help them connect in their communities.

5. Open closed doors-Hundreds, sometimes thousands of hours of research go into writing a book. As authors, we’re fortunate to be able to access things that are not necessarily available to everyone; when writing my novel, Obsessed with Her, I got advice and guidance from the head of Toronto Police,  Homicide Division. I was able to ask them questions about specific scenarios to make my work more credible. I’ve stayed at some of the best hotels and have had some of the most amazing experiences in the name of research for a book, and people have been more than accomodating and so wonderful in helping me get things right for my novels.

6. Creating something that outlives you– As an author in Canada, we have to register our books with the Library and Archives of Canada. That in itself is a pretty special honour, we have effectively created something that will outlive us. Long after we’re dead and gone, our work will be available for generations to come.

Again, I’m so grateful that I get to do what I do; I’m thankful for so many people, and I’m forever appreciative of being able to tell stories and create art. Thank you. X LLB

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Your Service to Your Customers

April 6, 2020– Do you know what killed brick and mortar stores and traditional retail? Poor customer service did, along with a laundry list of other unfortunate events. How can you survive in this day and age without providing excellent customer service? Short answer, you can’t and you won’t. We live in a time where people don’t have to settle; they don’t have to put up with crappy attitudes from employees, or a lack of common courtesy, or not being acknowledged when they walk into an establishment, heck they don’t even have to put up with long line ups or store hours or ever leave the comfort of their own home for that matter. The landscape of doing business has changed, so what does this mean for you as a bookseller/author. In this post I’m not going to talk about the importance of being able to sell your work online, I’m talking about providing customer service for your readers and clients who purchase your products from your online store.

In my company, we use something that I came up with, it’s called the HOUSE method. Here’s what it looks like:

H-Hear your customers/readers. Really listen to what they’re telling you. Find out what they want to see more of and what they want less of. What matters to them? How can you tailor their experience so that they receive the biggest benefit of doing business with you? What makes them happy, and what do they like most about your company? What do they like least? Ask them why they read your work and why they don’t.

O-Offer them more than they expect. Include things like free samples of your work, additional bonus products for free, give them a chance to experience a different part of your product line or flash fiction. Go above and beyond their expectations! Let them know that you appreciate them and that their support of your business and work means everything.

U-User friendly experience. Are your site and online store easy to use? Are your downloads working? Are your readers/customers able to access everything they need? If they run into an issue, can it be solved quickly, and will it be a good experience where you can go above and beyond to help them? Are you easy to find and easy to connect with?

SSolve the problem before it becomes a problem. Maybe you need to use a new platform to connect with readers that will allow you to respond to messages more quickly. Anticipate all of the areas of your business that could go wrong and put systems in place to solve them immediately. This is a what-if scenario that will allow you to give your readers/customers the best possible experience and outcome should things go awry. What if your online site goes down, what’s your back up plan? What if your online payment software glitches? How can customers still purchase from you? This is something that we do BEST because the boss is a bit of an anxiety-ridden, back-up-plan-making, worst-case scenario kind of person. She likes to stay five steps ahead at all times.

E-Edit your game plan. If something isn’t working, you need to stop and pivot in a new direction. Is there someone on your team that needs more training on customer service? Do you need to fire them? Are people enjoying your newsletter and are you providing value to your readers? If not, is it time to find a new writer or drop your newsletter all together? (Ours is coming back, don’t worry! We’re revamping it.) Are you using software that’s causing delays in ordering? It’s time to get rid of the old and bring in the new so that you can serve your readers and customers better.

Readers don’t NEED to read your books. Customers don’t HAVE TO shop with you. Remember that there are a whole host of other choices out there and it’s your PRIVILEGE to serve them.

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