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Dealing with Critics…

December 7, 2018- Everyone is a critic. There are times when we all seem to think that we know better and that we know more when it comes to certain things; maybe we’re an expert in our field, or maybe we have many years of experience. The point is that there will always be someone who knows more than you.

Please remember that criticism when properly portrayed and worded can be extremely effective in helping us become better; publishers, like myself, often give constructive criticism to writers because we want them to apply what we’ve said to make them a better writer. It’s never, ever personal and is never meant to offend. I think that it’s a big problem in the world right now that people are unwilling to accept criticism. My only caveat is that the criticism given MUST be constructive, helpful, truthful, and kind. Also, I want to make this crystal clear: NEVER TAKE CRITICISM OR ADVICE FROM SOMEONE WHO IS NOT DOING BETTER THAN YOU. Read that sentence again.

As an author, publisher, and small business owner, you wouldn’t believe the hate mail I get. There’s always someone who is nasty, and mean, and has terrible things to say about what I’m doing or not doing, or what I should be doing, or what I’m offering or writing. I learned a long time ago that there are some people who always seem angry and continuously look for conflict. Walk away; the battle they are fighting isn’t with you, it’s with themselves. It’s important to remember this; you’re never going to be all things to all people, you’re never going to make everyone happy!  I’ve been on both ends of it, the receiving end and the giving end, and I’ve received some very brutal feedback from professionals as well as people who don’t think that I can do anything right. But, to the people who feel the need to criticize my business and the way that I run things, to those who are just downright horrible, don’t worry, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and your opinion is just that, your opinion. Thank goodness that for every person with something mean to say, there are ten others who love us.

Check yourself before you start to criticize someone else. If you’re the one receiving criticism, before you accept it, make sure that it’s truthful, constructive, and kind. If it’s not any of those things, take it with a grain of salt, and move on.

Wishing you every success,
X LLB

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Recommended Reading…Make Your Bed

November 14, 2018– We read a lot of books around here at Pandamonium Publishing House, as we should because we are writers. I’m a firm believer that the more you read, the better you write.  We like to read all types of books including books that aren’t always in our genre. I’m currently reading an interesting and pretty short book that’s non-fiction and it’s written by Admiral William H. McRaven (talk about a cool name) who is retired from the United States Navy. The book is called, Make Your Bed, Little things that can change your life…and maybe the world.

Admiral McRaven gave a commencement speech to the University of Texas students, which you can view on Youtube. His school of thinking is that if you make your bed every morning, you’ll have accomplished the first task of your day. He also believes that making your bed reinforces the fact that the little things in life matter and if you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

This is my second time reading this book in a year. I read it at the beginning of the year and I’m re-reading it now. This book is fantastic because McRaven is right! I made my bed every single day except for four days over the past year and let me tell you, boy did it make a world of difference when I didn’t! When I neglected to make my bed, I went to bed restless, had a terrible sleep, couldn’t shut off my brain, and felt unsettled. That’s not to say that every day that I did make my bed was a great day, but the point was that no matter what life threw at me, I could come home, get into my perfectly made bed, and disappear from the world. Daily life requires structure and making your bed is the first step.

I hope that you’ll read this book as there are a lot of fantastic stories and lessons within. (My favourite chapter is number four, the sugar cookie story!)

X LLB

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All GOOD Authors Are Streetwise…

October 8, 2018- Trust me when I tell you this, all authors are streetwise. Well, the good ones anyway. When people ask me what I do, I usually answer, “Whatever it takes.” To be a good author, not only do you have to be a good writer, but you have to be a good publicist, an excellent salesperson, a ruthless business owner, and a brave performer. Authors are streetwise because we have to be. We trust our guts, go with our intuition, and chase down ideas for stories that lead us down darkened alleyways, into sketchy situations, and across the ocean in pursuit of them. It’s the willingness to do what needs to be done in order to succeed. Every author I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting has always had this drive, desire, and gleaming personality that could charm the toughest of customers into buying their work or at least engage them into talking to them!

We’re streetwise because we don’t have any other option, especially when it comes to self-publishing because if we don’t do it, who will? Us authors have a willingness to go through hell and back to reach our goals. We do most things in pursuit of the end game, in pursuit of selling one book, or in selling one-more-book. We fight hard to have our voices heard, to have our books displayed, to be best sellers, to cement and earn our reputations as wielders of words. We are ferocious, dedicated, and our biggest critics. We do this because we love it and because we believe our stories need to be heard. We do this because we believe in something bigger than ourselves and because we want to leave this earth with something that outlives us.

So, as any type of author, traditionally published or self-published, let me remind you of your importance in this world; the world shines brighter because you’re in it and because of the stories you tell. The world is a better place because you’re willing to do what it takes to realize a dream. Don’t ever forget your purpose; to tell stories that change lives.

So here’s to all of my streetwise colleagues, I salute you.

X LLB

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The Business of Books…

September 28, 2018– A lot of the time what happens in the book business is that new authors don’t treat it as such. I’m not only talking to our self-published friends, I’m talking to our traditionally published peeps as well. The easiest part of being an author is writing the book, and the hardest part is marketing it, hands down, that’s the absolute truth, and that’s coming from someone who has a marketing and advertising background.

I know what you’re thinking, doesn’t the publisher do all the work while I get to sit behind a table at (insert name of bookstore here) and sign copies of my books for all of my adoring fans while they bask in my genius? The short answer? No. The long answer? F#*& No. Newsflash: You are NOT Stephen King, and no one is here to see you.

Harsh but true. Here’s the thing, traditionally published authors are expected to market themselves alongside the publisher. If you’re not willing to put yourself out there and help with the marketing, promotion, publicity, and you’re not willing to put the work in you’re going down in flames, I would bet my business on that. It’s even more of a challenge for our self-published friends! My advice? Get a strong business background first and go from there, learn as much as you can and then implement the good stuff. And if something doesn’t work, you can always pivot and change directions with your marketing plan. In order to become any kind of successful author, or to be successful at anything for that matter, you’re going to have to do whatever it takes, and it’s going to take everything you’ve got.

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given when I started all of this was, “When you’re writing a book it’s an art. When the book is finished, it’s business. Never confuse the two.” That piece of advice has been instrumental in me making decisions as a writer and business owner.

Keep your chin up, keep writing, remember that this is a business, and take all of the good advice you can get. Remember, you get what you work for, not what you wish for.

Write that on my tombstone.

X LLB

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What We’re Reading

September 12, 2018– I am currently reading (for the second time) The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. And I can’t say enough about this little book!

This book is the exact kick in the ass that us writers need. It’s no-nonsense, fuss-free look into what is really holding us back as artists! I highly recommend this book for anyone who dreams about writing the next Great Novel, anyone who has regrets over unfinished screenplays, poems, or paintings, and anyone who wants advice as an entrepreneur.

The War of Art is so valuable in unlocking hidden barriers within ourselves! This is a must-read for anyone who wants to start living.

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Margaret Atwood’s Creative Process

August 6, 2018– As you know Margaret Atwood is the Canadian author of The Handmaid’s Tale. Hugely popular as a television series on Netflix, we thought it would be a fabulous idea to share this Youtube video with you that gets inside of her brain to find out what her creative process is. If you haven’t READ her books yet, do it! What are you waiting for? Here’s some advice from a legend.

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It’s ALL About Perspective

August 1, 2018- Earlier last week I was chatting with a woman who I’ve become friends with who works at my local bookstore. She asked me if I needed help with finding a book and I told her that I was looking for a psychology book that deals with Borderline Personality Disorder. “Whoa, that’s pretty interesting! Is it for a new book in the works?” She asked with a smile. “You know it!” I said. We got into a discussion about her writer’s block, and she asked me for some tips about getting the creative faucet to turn on. Here’s what I told her:

  1. Change your space. Change your environment. Use your opposite hand to eat, brush your teeth, etc. Change anything! I know I’ve harped on this a million times on this blog, but it can’t be understated! Change your space, and you change your perspective.
  2. Pick up a book outside of your regular genre and read it! Doing this helps to expand your imagination as a writer, and it may give you a tiny glimmer of something new to write about! Do you usually read non-fiction self-help books? Why not pick up a copy of a cozy romance or horror story? It might just be enough to get your creativity flowing.
  3. Think about a different perspective. Ok, everyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of the Twisted Tales Series by Liz Braswell! If you haven’t put these on your To-Read list, you have to; they are fabulous! In her book As Old as Time, which is an interpretation of Beauty and the Beast, she explores what would happen if it was Belle’s mother who cursed the Beast! Right? I know. Here is a sample below of what the book is about:

    Belle is a lot of things: smart, resourceful, restless. She longs to escape her poor provincial town for good. She wants to explore the world, despite her father’s reluctance to leave their little cottage in case Belle’s mother returns—a mother she barely remembers. Belle also happens to be the captive of a terrifying, angry beast. And that is her primary concern. But Belle touches the Beast’s enchanted rose; intriguing images flood her mind—images of the mother she believed she would never see again. Stranger still, she sees that her mother is none other than the beautiful Enchantress who cursed the Beast, his castle, and all its inhabitants. Shocked and confused, Belle and the Beast must work together to unravel a dark mystery about their families that is twenty-one years in the making.

Holy smokes right? Why didn’t I think of this? Guess what? You CAN think of something like this! All you have to do is change your perspective. Let me prove it to you. I’ll give you some classic stories and how you can flip the view to write something entirely new:)

  1. Little Red Riding Hood– Write from the perspective of the Wolf. What is his side of the story? What if he was more afraid of Little Red Riding Hood than she is of him? Why should he be afraid of her? What has she done? What if she comes into the forest wearing a wolf-skin cape?
  2. Harry Potter-What if you wrote from Voldemort’s point of view? What happened in his life to make him the way he is? What trauma has he experienced in his life to become so evil? Of course, use this for inspiration only as I am not in the business of recommending copyright infringement. For creative writing purposes and to get the juices flowing, it’s okay to write about this. Just don’t publish it!
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird– Write from the perspective of Boo Radley. What was it like for him to be a recluse and never leave his house? What happened to him to make him this way? Did he watch Scout, Jem, and Dill and think about what he wanted to say to them? What would he say if he could?

I think you get the picture! Here’s to your creativity! Keep writing:) X LLB