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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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So You Want to Run a Writing Business…

September 19, 2018– So you want to run a writing business, congratulations! Do you know what you really want?

A lot of authors branch off into offering writing services to the general public. It may be editing or consulting, helping someone flesh out ideas for their book, or it can even be assisting self-published authors with the long publishing journey ahead. Whatever it is, before you begin, make sure you have a head for business.

I’m not going to mention money or charges or price structure in this post because that is entirely up to you! What I am going to talk about are the most important things you need to do before you even THINK about pricing your services.

As I own a full-service publishing house, I have some tips on running a successful writing business:

  1. What are you offering? Make sure that you’re clear about what you do and what you don’t do! Do you offer line editing? Revisions and re-writes? Manuscript consultations? Blog hosting? YOU have to know what you do before anyone else can.
  2. Who is your ideal client and what qualities do they possess? When you work with clients you love, you’ll genuinely enjoy the job you’re doing, and that’s when you do your best work! Make a list of the traits your ideal clients have. Are they bright? Resilient? Courageous? Big thinkers? Rapid responders?
  3. Identify your target market of ideal clients. What do you specialize in and who is your niche? Choosing your target market is essential because to reach the people you’re meant to work with, you’ve got to know where to find them. Maybe your writing business is ghostwriting for medical professionals, make a list of where to find the people who need your services!
  4. Determine the biggest result your clients get. What is the number one outcome that you help your target market achieve? Do you help self-published authors get their book from an idea into physical form? Potential clients within your target market must see your services and products as opportunities to receive a return on their monetary investment. What kind of ROI will your clients get from working with you?

It’s imperative to your success that you answer the above questions before getting started. Because as I always say, you can’t hit a target you can’t see. Here’s to your success!

X LLB

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Writing Prompt…

August 29, 2018- I love writing prompts and today’s prompt is especially fun! This works really well when I have writer’s block and when I want to start the creative juices flowing.

Happy Writing! X LLB

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How Well Do You Do This?

August 27, 2018- You are a self-published author. I want to know how well you do this one thing. It’s something that some of us shy away from, it’s something that can be uncomfortable for most, but it’s something that is imperative to your success.

Some of you may be saying, “Of course I do this!” But, for others, death is more welcoming than completing this task.

What is that one something that is imperative to your success as a self-published author? It’s self-promotion! Here’s usually what happens:

  1. Author writes the book. Edits are done, cover designed, etc.
  2. They get someone to print it.
  3. Hundreds of copies of their book sit idle in their garage.

I’ve broken this down to the simplest point. Of course, there is much more that goes into the in-between of writing to print. So, let’s get to the meat of the conversation and talk about the hundreds of copies that just sit idle in the author’s garage and what to do about it! Self-promotion is the key to your success. If people don’t know about you and your book how the heck do you expect them to buy it? Your biggest problem is obscurity. Once people start to take notice in what you’re saying they’ll take notice of what you’re selling.

  1. You MUST create a marketing plan BEFORE your book comes out. Why? Because you need to know where you’re going to know when you’ll get there. Set goals, but develop a comprehensive marketing plan. Author platform is also crucial, but that’s a whole other blog post:)
  2. Self-Promote. Yep, I said it. Get used to talking about yourself, your book, and your work. Get ready to start promoting your book to everyone you come in contact with. Get ready to pound the pavement, have doors slammed in your face, and get ready to be told NO a thousand times. You have to develop a thick skin. There are a lot of haters out there and do you know why? Because they can’t do what you do.
  3. Believe in yourself and your work. You must believe that what you’ve written is valuable and that people want to know about it!  I remember reading the 10 X Rule by Grant Cardone, and one thing in the book stuck out in my mind, it went something like this: “I don’t want to push my product on people!” and Grant Cardone said, “It’s a shame you have a product you don’t believe in.” This hit me like a ton of bricks, and I NEVER hesitated again to approach someone with my books. Do you believe in your words? Do you believe in yourself? If not, don’t bother writing another word. If you don’t care, neither does anyone else. Stop, go get a different job, and chase another dream. Let me tell you something though, believing in yourself is the only way to make your dreams come true. It starts with that. The second thing is taking action. That’s it. It’s that simple.

So, how well do you self-promote? How much do you believe in yourself? How much action do you take?

X LLB

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As a Self- Pubished Author, Are You a Bad Decision Maker?

August 17, 2018- This is for all of my self-published author friends and colleagues! I want to know, are you a bad decision maker? I know that in the past, I certainly have been. It is imperative to be a good decision maker when self-publishing because so many things require your attention! Here’s what I’ve learned along the way in my own publishing journey:

  1. You base your decisions on ego. If you think that you know it all, you’ve got a problem. Let’s say that your an expert in a specific field like illustration, you may assume that your expertise in that field will translate to every other area in bookmaking such as marketing, advertising, and writing. Well, my dear friend, you would be wrong. Instead, assemble a team of people whose expertise rounds out your own and reap the benefits of multiple perspectives.
  2. You rely on the momentum effect. Yes, I do believe that some past events can predict future events, BUT this is not always written in stone, and there’s a problem with thinking this way! The world is continually changing and evolving. If you’re only relying on your tried-and-true methods and are blind to other options, you’re going to be in trouble. It’s important to learn from the past, but to keep your eyes on the future. Know what’s going on in your industry so that you can continuously pivot and be on top of your game.
  3. You’re Lazy. If you’re a self-published author, then I have news for you, you’re an entrepreneur whether you like it or not. Entrepreneurs have to be curious and hungry and always on the lookout for new opportunities. If you only make decisions based on how comfortable you feel and refuse to try anything new, this industry will chew you up and spit you out.
  4. You’re indecisive. Ugh. Nothing makes me cringe more than people who can’t make a damn decision. Yes, there are some decisions that need to be thought about carefully, but let’s face it, most decisions can be made in a matter of seconds! If you can’t decide where you’re going on your self-publishing journey, then why would it matter when you get there? You can’t hit a target you can’t see. Make a decision and stick with it whether it’s right or wrong. You’ll find out eventually and remember that indecision is a decision!
  5. You see the trees and not the forest. Take a look at the big picture! Good decisions are always made with the big picture in mind, but if you’re always worried and focused on putting out fires and solving minor problems, you’ll never be able to properly plan ahead. Don’t Major in Minor things. You get me? Delegate the smaller decisions to those who are in your corner. You don’t need to worry yourself with minor details that don’t really matter in the long run.

So, the good news is that if you do any of the things above, you can choose to stop doing those things immediately and become a better decision maker! It’s not always easy, but it can be done. Trust me, I’ve done it.

Here’s to your writing success,
X LLB

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Do Author School Visits Matter?

August 13, 2018- I do a lot of school visits as an author, and someone once asked me the question, “Do author visits make a difference in kids’ lives?” I took a second to think about that. “Yes, they do. And let me prove it to you.” More on this in a second.

I love, love, love going to schools as a visiting author with the opportunity to read my books to young people! It is such a unique and wonderful experience that no two schools are the same. I leave with a sense of gratitude for the young minds that allow me their attention for even a brief time and for the teachers and librarians that welcome me with open arms, into their schools and their spaces. The questions that the children ask are fun, funny, and sometimes very personal! But, enough about what we as authors get out of school visits, what do the children receive?

According to a recent study that was conducted in 2013, by California State University, children receive the following benefits from author school visits:

  1. Author visits motivate children to read more. Kids passion for reading is ignited before, during, and after an author visit. They get excited about things that they can relate to such as an in-person visit from someone who is real! I often hear them say that they too want to be authors when they grow up.
  2. Author visits inspire creativity and expression. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a school where the kids have created a comic book for me, complete with illustrations, or how many times they’ve created a poem or handmade card.
  3. Author visits motivate children to write more. Children often hurry home after an author has visited their school because they’ve suddenly caught the writing bug. They want to write about anything, and everything, plus, author visits can also spark ideas to write about.

It is always beneficial to have an author visit your school! There are so many reasons why you should book a visit for the upcoming school year. Not only is it fun, but it’s also educational and entertaining.

I do in-person school visits, but I also offer live Skype visits and readings with schools that are abroad. Please contact pandapublishing8@gmail.com for more information.

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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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How to Self-Edit Your Writing!

August 3, 2018– Normally, I would advise against self-editing especially if you plan on submitting your work to a publisher. It always pays to send in your most polished writing, and the cost of getting your manuscript professionally edited is absolutely worth it! But what about the publisher? If they like my work don’t they pay to get it edited? Yes, of course, we do, but it’s always a breath of fresh air to have a manuscript submitted that requires less editing, and that is pretty close to almost perfect.

My advice, if you can’t afford to hire a pro to edit your ms before sending to a publisher, can be found in this excellent infographic from our friends at NowNovel.com. Check out the tips below!

How to self-edit - 8 top editing tips for fiction writers

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Places to Write…

June 1, 2018- Where is your favourite place to write? What place inspires you? Do you enjoy writing outside? In different countries? At home on your dining room table?

As an author, I most definitely have my preferred places to write. I enjoy writing in these spots because they inspire me and I’m able to get fresh ideas and conversations for my books.

  1. Different Countries: I’ve been fortunate enough to write in many places around the world. Some of my favourites include, Jamaica, London, and Tampa Bay. I also really loved writing in Havana and was very lucky to have visited the bar Floridita where Ernest Hemingway frequented. This was SUPER inspiring, not only because one of the greats visited it, but because the atmosphere and the energy it has.
  2. Outside: One of my favourite places to write is on my back deck. I love being outside with my laptop while listening to nature and the sounds of birds bickering back and forth and occasionally the odd neighbour! There’s something to be said about escaping the same four walls every once in a while to reconnect with your characters. Another place I love to write is the beach. The sand, surf, and salty air will be featured in my upcoming beach novel that is set to debut in late 2019.
  3. On Planes: I do a ton of editing while flying, but I also do a ton of writing. I’m a huge believer of writing during the spaces in between and not wasting minutes. What better time to write than during a seven or eight hour international flight? I get super inspired on flights because we all know the many characters that are on board! Sometimes we can find the perfect character inspiration sitting in the seat next to us.
  4. In Bed: “I only love my bed and my mama, I’m sorry”…wait, didn’t Drake say that? I know that experts say that the bedroom should only be reserved for sleep and sex, but there is something magical about writing in bed. The fluffy, white covers, two sleeping cats, a snoring husband, and if I’m really lucky, there will be a thunderstorm! This is by far my most favourite place to write and when I look around at who I’m surrounded by, I feel like the luckiest person on the planet, because I have everything I’ll ever need right there.

Where do you like to write and why? Let me know in the comments below.

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How To…an Infographic

April 2, 2018-This is a really cool how-to infographic on creating epic characters. The info below is something that doesn’t need to be told to the reader, but rather, the writer should know these things about their character so that it will naturally bleed into their writing.  Pick bits and pieces that you want to share and leave the rest to the reader’s imagination. The more you know about your character, the better and more invested your readers will be!

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