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You are NOT Shakespeare…(Poetry is a hard sell)

January 16, 2019Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.  

Sigh. Talk poetry to me. Another sigh, as I cup my chin in my hands and gaze adoringly into your eyes. Ok, we aren’t Shakespeare, far from it, I’m speaking for myself anyway even though I would beg for a fraction of the talent that he had. What’s the deal with poetry in the marketplace? Why is so hard to sell? Why doesn’t it get published as often as other genres? These are just a few of the questions that I get pretty regularly. Here’s are some answers:

  1. Poetry has a very niche audience. In mainstream publishing, there’s a small market for poetry books. Even established, well-known poets don’t sell thousands of books – maybe not even hundreds. I know what you’re going to say…”But, what about The Sun and Her Flowers or Milk and Honey?” Yes, those books did sell thousands, but they are the exception to the rule.
  2. Poetry doesn’t sell. Let me rephrase that, poetry doesn’t sell as well as mainstream fiction does. I believe that the world needs poetry and poets, but I also believe that I don’t want to take an enormous financial risk in publishing an unknown poet’s poems. The cold, hard truth about traditional publishing is that publishers want to make a profit. This is our business and our livelihood. The cost of publishing a book is in the thousands, to begin with, and as publishers, we want to make damn sure that at the very least, we get our investment back. Publishing poetry is one gamble that I’m not willing to bet on. We are in this business to make money just like anyone who is in any business is.
  3. Poetry is subjective. You may hate Shakespeare (perish the thought, he is an absolute genius and I am a huge fan of his work) but there are those in the world that would fight you to the death defending his sonnets. You may love Robert Frost (again, what’s not to love?), but others may find his poetry dry and outdated. Poetry is art and art is subjective. Yes, writing is art, but mainstream writing is less subjective. You can say, “I love thrillers!” and cover an entire genre, whereas, with poetry, it’s much more specific.

The point is, if you love to write poetry, keep writing! Write for yourself and your friends and family. There are a few publications that are still accepting poetry submissions and a quick Google search will let you know where to send your work if you’re so inclined. Here’s to your success! X LLB

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You’re About to get Lectured on Your Lecture…

January 14, 2019- As authors know, occasionally we must give lectures about our books or our work. Public speaking is something that we should be used to by now because we’ve been preparing speeches since we were kids. Public speaking doesn’t have to be scary and it doesn’t have to be scarier than death, (I’m not kidding when I say that people would rather choose death than to stand in front of a crowd and talk…seems crazy to me!) because here’s all you need to know to successfully speak in public.

  1. Prep your stuff. Chances are that you know what you’re talking about when you’re speaking on your profession or when talking about your book, but It’s always good to prepare in advance in case the butterflies make you lose your mind and forget everything you’ve ever known. A couple of index cards are great when giving a formal speech with some notes jotted down in point form, or when speaking about your book, practice what you’re going to say or read (like an excerpt from your work).
  2. Vocal power. Speak slowly, pause, breathe, and smile. The last thing you want to do is come across as incoherent. Remember that episode from Seinfeld with the low talker and the close talker? Don’t do either of these things. Speak slowly, clearly, and loud enough so that the audience at the back of the room can hear you. If you’re nervous about speaking in public already, the worst thing to happen is for someone to shout from the back of the room, “WE CAN’T HEAR YOU!” Cue red cheeks and sweat stains. Remain calm and speak with confidence and power.
  3. Listen. When the question period of your lecture comes, be sure to listen to what your readers/clients/associates are asking you. Pause a few seconds before you answer and never, ever interrupt when someone is asking you a question. Make your questioner feel good and avoid making negative associations. Don’t make them feel bad or wrong and watch your body language. You’ll have your fair share of dumb questions, but keep those feelings to yourself. We’ve all asked a dumb question at one time or another!

So, get out there and tell the world about what you do and what you’ve written! They deserve to know how awesome you are.
X LLB

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What’s in a Name?

January 11, 2019– Man, there are some pretty cool names out there. I remember the first time that I thought, “Whoa, that’s a cool name that totally suits his profession!” The gentleman I’m talking about is a real person named Harvey Karver. Want to know his real-life profession? Butcher. No joke. How perfect is that?

Naming your characters properly is as essential as picking an excellent title for your book, and really, they do the same thing; they let your reader know subtle information about the book or the person, both if you’re a pro. So, what do I mean when I say you’d better pick a great name? Here are three simple tips!

  1. Get your era right. You’re not going to find a Chase, or a Stormi, or a Madison in a period piece or historical fiction novel. Know the names that were popular in the era that you’re writing about or risk your credibility as an author and your entire career for that matter.
  2. Don’t do trends. See the names above? Chase, Stormi, Rayne, and Colt are names that sound like they’re ripped from the Kardashian’s Baby Naming Handbook. These names are unique enough but tend to be overdone in romantic fiction especially. Plus, anytime that you use a trendy name, you take a chance of aging your book too soon.
  3. Say them out loud. Does your character’s name sound right? Does it sound like it belongs in the genre you’re writing? Does it have a nice ring to it? Does it work with your character’s profession and personality? If not, choose something different. There are thousands of names out there and if you’re not stuck on yours, keep trying until you find something that you love and that you believe. Because if you don’t believe it or like it, chances are that your reader won’t either! There is name-generating software available on the web. Do a quick Google search for fictional character names or name generator.

Oh, and one more important piece of advice; if there’s any possibility that you’ve named your fictional character after someone in real life, be sure to put in a disclaimer at the beginning of your book in order to keep from getting sued…especially if that person is still living!

Happy writing! X LLB

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Lie to Me…

January 4, 2019– Humans lie. Whether it’s white lies or big lies, or the lies in between, we all do it at one time or another. Lying can be essential for your manuscript depending on the genre! Here’s a really cool infographic explaining how to detect a lie; this is great for implementing into your manuscript if one of your characters is being interrogated by the police, or if a parent in your story is asking their teenage son what time they came home on Saturday night, or if you want to convey some subtle gestures throughout your novel for when your character is being less than truthful. Here’s to your success, and that’s no lie! X LLB

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The 60 Books I Read in 2018…

December 31, 2018– Well friends, it’s been an epic year in so many ways; I started some new adventures, made lots of new friends, traveled, and of course published a few books. But what about the books I read? It would be unfair of me not to mention them as some of them made such an impact on me, that my life and way of thinking will never be the same. 

60 books in a year was my goal, and I’m happy to say that I reached it. For all of you numbers nuts, that works out to approximately 1.15 books per week. Now, remember that not all of the books I read were in paperback format, some of them were audio books, and e-books. This method of “reading” allowed me to listen to books while travelling and while doing mundane tasks. I know that without audio books, it would have been much harder for me to reach my goal of 60 books read for the year. 

Let’s get on with it! Here is my list of books that I read in 2018: (A quick search on Amazon will show you details and the authors)

  1. 5 Thieves of Happiness
  2. Murder, She Wrote- Hook, Line, and Murder
  3. The Million Dollar Blog
  4. Thirteen
  5. Clockwork
  6. Profit First
  7. Murder, She Wrote- Dying to Retire
  8. Never Lose a Customer Again
  9. Mind Over Mind
  10. Outwitting the Devil
  11. Murder, She Wrote- Scared to Death
  12. Hocus Pocus
  13. Google Adwords
  14. Every Breath You Take
  15. The Couple Next Door
  16. You are Not so Smart
  17. The Brain that Changes Itself
  18. Tools of Titans
  19. You
  20. Make Your Bed
  21. Discipline Equals Freedom
  22. The Power of Gratitude
  23. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
  24. To Kill a Mockingbird
  25. Witches
  26. Unmarketing
  27. E Squared
  28. Do the Work
  29. 12 Rules for Life
  30. The Checklist Manifesto
  31. The 5 Second Rule
  32. The Obstacle is the Way
  33. Plum Lucky
  34. The 10x Rule
  35. 33 Strategies of War
  36. Brainfluence
  37. All Marketers are Liars
  38. The Toyota Way
  39. The Magic of Thinking Big
  40. The 48 Laws of Power
  41. Challenge Your Potential
  42. Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty
  43. The Positive Power of Negative Thinking
  44. How I write
  45. On Writing (Stephen King) 
  46. It 
  47. Delores Claiborne
  48. The Psychology of Winning
  49. 1 Page Marketing Plan
  50. The Art of War
  51. The Idiot Brain
  52. Screenwriting for Dummies
  53. Nocturnal Animals
  54. I See You
  55. The Woman in Cabin 10
  56. The Sales Bible 
  57. Save the Cat
  58. Book Yourself Solid
  59. The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
  60. Holes 

So, there you have it! I look forward to reading another 60 books in 2019. Remember, you can never be overdressed or overeducated. Happy Reading! X LLB 

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Commas Rule! (Or is it comma rules?)

December 21, 2018- Sorry, friends…it’s Comma Rules, but Commas do rule in my opinion! Check out this awesome info-graphic on how to properly use commas. 

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Learning to Love Failure (as an Author)

December 19, 2018– Failure is a part of life,  everybody fails at something one time or another. It’s important to embrace failure in a way that we can learn and grow from it. I’m a big believer that every no brings us closer to a yes. It’s easy to get discouraged, but I promise that failure isn’t so bad! Maybe you’ve failed at securing a book deal, maybe you’ve failed in reaching the target you set for yourself in book sales, or you’ve received yet another rejection letter; whatever it is, don’t give up!  Here are three reasons why failure is a good thing: 

  1. Failure is a great teacher. Here’s the thing; failure is going to happen no matter how hard you try to avoid it so don’t fear failure, embrace it! Failure teaches us more than success ever will. Don’t expect to fail, but when it happens, accept it and move on. However, don’t make the same mistakes repeatedly, learn from them, get better, and move on. 
  2. Failure helps us reach our potential. When we have a no fear attitude, we are able to take risks and when we take risks, we get the chance to be rewarded. It’s when we operate outside of our comfort zones that we accomplish the most. Trying and failing is better than not trying at all. Failure motivates us to do better, push harder, and persevere until we succeed. 
  3. Failure builds character and keeps us humble. When our egos are in charge, we don’t learn anything; our egos always want to be right which is dangerous because of course, sometimes we are wrong. Failure reminds us that we still have a lot to learn no matter how much we think we already know!  Failure reminds us that we can do better and that as long as we are willing to keep trying, we will succeed eventually. 

Now, I know this post is probably not what you want to hear, but if we don’t look at failure as an opportunity, then it’s wasted and we are likely to keep making the same mistakes again and again. Fail forward; it’s the only way. 

X LLB 

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Why Two Heads are Better Than One…

December 17, 2018– You’ve seen it on bookshelves across the country; James Patterson and Bill Clinton, Stephen and Owen King, and soon enough, yours truly with an author I have yet to introduce you to. (I’ll talk about this next year because I know how you guys love waiting for surprises;)

Co-authoring is on the rise so let’s talk about how to do it right because there is a whole pile of ways to do it wrong! Here are some ways to destroy your chances of collaborating successfully and how to ruin your working relationship with the author you’ve chosen to pair up with.

  1. Moving too fast. Writing with someone is essentially like getting married; it’s a terrible idea to get engaged on the first date and let’s face it, people who do this aren’t likely to last. Same goes for collaborating with another author; read their stuff, get to know their style and strengths, and allow them the time to do the same for you. Also, be sure to decide if the person you want to work with is a good fit for your personality; you guys will be spending a lot of time together and the last thing you need are major personality clashes. That won’t work for anyone.
  2. Not planning. Planning is quite literally the thing that either supports or inhibits your success while writing with someone else. If you don’t have a plan, you’re screwed. I’m a massive fan of outlines, and I use them always, that’s why I recommend 3 frameworks when collaborating: A) General outline of the book from start to finish, B) An overview of what author number 1 is working on C) An overview for what author number 2 is working on. Your outlines should include deadlines because if they don’t, what’s the point? We both know it will never get finished. This outline had better include what the marketing expectations are for both parties once the book is published or you’re going to have a killer headache sorting things out at the end of it!
  3. Lack of communication. Not clearly defining the expectation of both parties is a recipe for setting yourself on fire. You don’t want to burn, and you don’t want the other person to burn either, you guys are a team; decide how often you’re going to communicate and how the communication will be sent. Also, make perfectly clear who is responsible for what. Communication is key, and if you can’t communicate properly with the person you’re going to collaborate with, how the hell are you going to co-author with them?
  4. No Genre. For the millionth time, you can’t hit a target you can’t see. If you don’t know WHAT you’re writing, HOW are you supposed to write it and market it? You can’t. Pick a genre and stick to it. The writing marketplace is structured by genre; where will you put your book on the shelf when it is finally finished if you don’t know which genre it falls into? Your book isn’t for everyone, and if it is, your book is for no one.

Collaborations on any type of work can be risky, but that shouldn’t deter you from creating fabulous art with your fellow writers. Just make sure you follow the above tips and work with someone who is as awesome as you are!

Here’s to your success!
X LLB

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