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Are They Aware?

September 18, 2020-What do you see when I say the word McDonald’s? For some people, this word will conjure up the image of burgers, fries, broken ice cream machines and chicken McNuggets, and some will immediately see the infamous golden arches. It doesn’t matter what came to mind first, the food or the logo, because both things achieved the same goal, to make you aware of their brand and what they sell.

Are people aware of what you sell? Do the covers of your books come to mind when they think of you? Do they see your company logo? Do they know what you offer? If not, here are some good ways to make people aware of you, your brand, and your books:

  1. Business cards-Always carry a stack of business cards with you. It should say who you are, what your occupation is, website, email, phone number, and have your logo/slogan on it. Mine is black with a silver P, on the front with my name and owner of Pandamonium Publishing House.
  2. Brochures-These are great tools to hand out to people to explain your business offering, product samples, book excerpts, reviews, and services. Be sure to include your logo, colours, website, email, business name, how to order, and social media information.
  3. Postcards- I use postcards a lot for many different things. I use them to write notes to clients, to include in our subscription book boxes, to say thank you, and for appreciation notes to anyone who orders off our site.
  4. Banners/signage- These are essential for shows and events that you’re attending. Include your logo, brand colours, slogan, and website/email/social media info. Be sure that everything is large enough to read from a distance.
  5. Letterhead- This should include your company name, email address, website, address, and logo as well as company colours, and phone number.
  6. Email signature- Some days, I’ll send up to 50 emails per day, depending on the circumstance. An email signature is a great way to let prospective clients know what you do, who you are, and how to reach you and your social media handles. Also, if you have a writing business, your email signature is a great way to let everyone know what your hours are or when you’re out of the office/away from your desk.
  7. Social media-Amazon author page, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram- You should have all of these things and more. People need to know where to find you, and you need to be consistent with your posts. Use a social media scheduler like Hootsuite to pre-schedule your posts so you’re not tied to your phone when you could be doing something more valuable with your time. Your social media should all be linked to each other and be informative, educational, and entertaining while adhering to your brand message and aesthetic.
  8. Blog-How your blog looks and what it does are synonymous with your brand awareness and what you do/offer. Your books should be for sale online as well as your services, an about section about you and your company, and your logo, colours, and common theme should run throughout. If you’re a romance writer, for example, you could have topics on your blog that include things such as the elements of writing romance, specific genre information, how to write characters etc.
  9. Logo and colours-Our brand colours are black, white, and purple; this follows through to our cards, brochures, postcards, signage, letterhead, and blog. Our logo is a black box with a white letter P in the middle.

Every time you create content or interact with people, you are representing your brand. Do it well.

Have your coffee the same way that we do!
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Run Your Way to Inspiration

September 10, 2020-As long as it’s not raining, you can usually find me running outside in the early morning in my neighbourhood. I love saying hello to familiar faces and smiling back at the people who give me cheery grins and waves. There are people walking and biking, some are on rollerblades, and most have dogs; it’s usually the same crowd day in and day out with a few exceptions.

I like to make up stories about the people and things that I see while I run; Where are they going after this? What if their dog could talk? Does their dog talk to the other dogs it meets? Where does that staircase lead? What is that skunk doing, and what is he digging for? What if we were all running from Zombies? Would I survive? And the list goes on.

Sometimes the ideas are silly, and sometimes the ideas are stuff that I can work with. The point is that I’m observing the things around me and being inspired by them.

Inspiration comes in all forms; let’s explore:

  1. Setting-Sunsets, trees, trails, staircases, houses, waterfronts are all examples of settings you’ll see on your run that could make it into your story.
  2. Animals-Skunks, foxes, birds, squirrels, coyotes, and rabbits are all animals that I’ve seen on the running trail that would make great characters for stories!
  3. People-runners, rollerbladers, walkers, older adults, middle-aged people, workout buffs, personal trainers, kids, and teenagers are great examples of people to write about.
  4.  Professions-Garbage collectors, construction workers, road pavers, gardeners, roofers, dog walkers, and babysitters are some professions that could start your story off right.

Looking at this list inspires me! How many ideas can you think of using the list of things above? Happy Writing, X LLB

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What Do You Do?

September 9, 2020– How many times have you been asked, “What do you do?” Probably a lot, especially when at a gathering where you’re meeting new people. I was at a party once where this question came up (which was not directed toward me), and the person answered, “Oh, I’m just an author. Well, not really an author, I publish my own stuff, but I don’t have a publisher or anything…” From across the room, I watched as the woman squirmed in the corner and shifted her feet with cocktail in hand, and I wanted to grab her by the shoulders, look into her eyes, and say, “Start again, this time with confidence! Repeat after me, I AM AN AUTHOR. Period. That’s a complete sentence.” 

How many times have you downplayed your writing skills or talents? A few, I’m willing to bet, especially since most authors are introverts who don’t like to toot their own horn. But it’s crucial that you say you’re an author with conviction because if you don’t believe it, no one else will. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re published, unpublished, in the submission phase, have a few things in small publications, a blogger, a poet or whatever else, YOU ARE AN AUTHOR. 

Why does this matter? Because sooner or later, what you say and think about most, becomes reality. As long as your writing and improving your craft, it’s only a matter of time before someone says yes after a whole bunch of no’s. It drives me insane when authors say that they’re not real authors because they’ve self-published. All that means is (if they did it right and invested in a quality editor, cover designer, and formatter) that they wanted to keep control of their project and work from beginning to end. Yes, there are a few self-published works out there that give the good guys a bad name, but for the most part, self-published books (when executed properly) are impossible to tell from traditionally published books. 

So, start believing in yourself! You’ll be glad you did. X LLB 

 

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Raise Your Standards

September 4, 2020– It’s time to raise your standards in all areas of your writing life and business. What have you been putting up with for too long, and why? Standards are the behaviours that you hold yourself to, and as they improve, so do your health, your relationships, your career, and your writing. I think Mandy Hale said it best, “Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.”

So, what should your standards include for your writing business? Here are mine:

  1. We refuse to work with people who have a problem for every solution.  I don’t do negativity. Not for one minute. It’s a disease and spreads like an out of control infection that will eventually kill everything in its path. That’s why we work with optimists, glass half full type of people; people who see the best in others and themselves.
  2. We don’t do drama. At Pandamonium Publishing House, we are a team, and there is no competition between authors. Each person is unique, and so is their writing style, so everyone brings their voice to the table. One of my favourite quotes that is hanging in my office is, “If you’re not willing to put your team first, turn around” which was initially posted in a sports team’s dressing room before they went through the doors and down the tunnel. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. We’re in this for the long haul.
  3. We work hard. No one works harder than my team. I’m willing to bet my life on it, and every single day, I bet my business on it. If my authors and illustrators aren’t writing/drawing, they’re teaching, if they’re not teaching, they’re speaking, if they’re not speaking, they’re at events, if they’re not at events, they’re learning. They are always striving to do more, to be more, and to create more.
  4. We refuse to give up-Giving up, and quitting isn’t in our vocabulary. I’ve personally had enough rejection letters to wallpaper the side of my house, and so have a lot of my authors. We don’t give up when things get difficult because we remember who is watching. We want to make ourselves and eachother proud.
  5. We meet deadlines or people die. Just kidding, that’s a misquote from the movie  A Few Good Men. But we don’t miss deadlines because that would crush our credibility and lower our standard of business. Our books come out on time or ahead of schedule because time is of the essence, and we hate to keep our readers waiting.
  6. We won’t publish boring books. We have a standard around here, and that is that we don’t do boring. Our name is Pandamonium for a reason-we bring chaos and mayhem and energy and fun in all of our books. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
  7. We continue our education. The authors and illustrators at Pandamonium are some of the most educated people you will ever meet. Teachers, health care professionals, professors, curators, educators, BA’s, Ph.D.’s, MBA’s and more make up our team. But we also have authors/illustrators who have been educated at the school of hard knocks (yours truly included although I do have an education in Marketing/Advertising, Children’s Literature, Publishing, and Consumer Neuroscience and Neuromarketing, they’re all just pieces of paper to me) that have life experience that could never be taught in a classroom. I read up to 60 books per year on business, personal development, publishing, and what’s trending in the industry, and my authors and illustrators are voracious readers as well.
  8. We represent ourselves and this company with class and passion. Every author and illustrator in this company represents us well. We are a passionate team that believes in championing Canadian arts, artists, illustrators, authors, and storytellers. We build relationships with other artists and offer our continuing support to individuals and businesses whose values mirror ours.
  9. Our number 1 mission is literacy. First and foremost, we care about literacy. We want kids to read books that are exciting, fun, educational, and unputdownable. We know that literacy matters and that reading/writing/comprehension bridges the gap between poverty and self-reliance, health, financial wellness, and self-esteem.
  10. We write the books we want to read. We care about the books we publish and write things that appeal to us. If we like it and want to read it, chances are our readers will too!

If you’re not setting standards and sticking to them, you’re letting yourself down.

 

 

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Prepared or Not Prepared (that is the question)

September 2,2020-I was at the nail salon the other day getting my manicurist, Brian, to work his magic on my tattered, overused nails. Thanks to my profession, it’s hard to keep my fingernails long and beautiful, thank you keyboard, but I do what I can to make them look nice yet functional.

So, I’m sitting there and Brian and I are chatting when I overhear a conversation at the table next to me; two women strike up a conversation and the one asks the other for a business card. The woman rummages through her purse and comes up empty-no business card to give to a prospective client, how terrible and what a wasted opportunity. She turns back to the woman and says with a flush of embarrassment, “Sorry, I don’t have any with me.”

Don’t let this happen to you! Be prepared to do business!

Here’s what’s in my bag/truck that I never leave the house without and you shouldn’t either as a writer!

1) Business Cards-This is the easiest way to make an impression and the simplest thing to hand out. Invest in a high quality business card made of premium material. There’s no quicker way to squash a potential deal than to have a crappy business card. The worst offenders are the print at home kind because they never look professional. Be sure to include your name, phone number, website and email on your card as well as your company name.

2) Brochures-These are great when you want to show off your available services or product collection. Get a high quality brochure made from a professional printer and stick with a glossy finish for maximum punch. You can showcase your book titles beautifully with this approach.

3) Product Samples-I keep a few books in the truck at all times so that I’m always ready should they opportunity present itself for me to give one away or sell one. Your products are your most effective form of communication! Do not leave the house without your books.

Don’t miss any opportunity to talk about your books or your business! Be prepared because you never know what can happen.

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An Excerpt from Life Supports

August 12, 2020-If you haven’t read Life Supports by KG Watson, you should. It’s a fantastic book that examines the important things in life. Here’s an excerpt from the story:

“It was during a search of my basement music storage for material that the ladies unexpectedly came across the box of cookbooks. I had forgotten I put them there, maybe I didn’t, maybe the kids put them there when they cleaned out the kitchen prior to the arrival of the students.

The Evercare bus had dropped me off at my house after the service. After I handed my just-used material back to the digitizers, I went to find what I thought I needed for next week. I had pointed to the boxes I wanted to look through and Margaret had hoisted them up the stairs and onto a cleared corner of the dining room table for sorting.

When I opened the first box there they were rank on rank of cookbooks, ragged with loose paper sticking out of them it was not what I expected. While Trudy and Jessica continued their perfected ballet with my music scores and the electronics, Margaret diverted her attention to scan this new trove. If it looks like a book, Margaret is helpless within its sight. The kitchen library has been stacked into the box spine up. There were fat volumes of cookbooks separating words of pamphlets on the top layer.

With the removal, a packet of letter size sheets and plastic archive folders that have been stuffed down the side, fell over onto the lower layer of pamphlets. Margaret pulled a page and couldn’t help noticing the title on the top peeking from beneath the rusting pinch clamp that held the clump together. Gingerbread Cookies it said in bold print, I sighed.”

There are recipes included in this book and I think that we should attempt to make a couple of them. Gingerbread just happens to be my absolute favourite cookie of all time!

I hope you enjoyed the above excerpt from Life Supports by KG Watson. Now available on Amazon and soon on our site!

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It’s Funny

August 5, 2020-No matter what you’re writing, an element of humour should be present. This is especially true for those of us who write mysteries, thrillers, and psychological books. I think Josh Whedon said it best, “Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” It’s important when writing heavy subject matter to relieve your readers once in a while! Here are three ways to inject humour into your manuscript:

1) Dialogue-Get your character to say something funny. Have a weird exchange between two characters, get your character to reminisce about something humorous that happened to them.

2) Situation-Put your character in a situation where something funny happens to break the tension (when it fits) such as tripping or ripping their pants, or mistaking one thing for something else. In my book Obsessed with Her, James overheard a conversation he thought for SURE was about the girl he was holding hostage, but it turned out to be a missing dog.

3) Embarrass them. Embarrassing things happen to us all the time and I’m sure to me more than others…sigh. Embarrass your character eg. spinach in teeth, static underwear stuck to the back of their outfit, spilling coffee on themselves etc.

The point of adding an element of humour to your writing is to make your characters three dimensional, real, and relatable.

Happy Writing! XLLB

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3 Things

July 29, 2020- We’re creating new content for our YouTube channel that will be posted soon, but for now, let’s hear about three simple things you can do to market your self-published book. Subscribe to our channel Pandamonium Publishing House for book trailers, upcoming events, tips for authors, and more!

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Pumpkin-Ize Your Writing

July 6, 2020-I’m hoping to grow some massive, prize-winning pumpkins this year to the tune of 2500 pounds; knowing this is quite a feat, I thought I’d enlist the help of experts. I went to Amazon to look for a book on pumpkin growing when I stumbled across a book titled, The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz. The book is NOT about growing pumpkins, but growing your business like you would a gigantic pumpkin, there are steps that need to be taken! To grow a pumpkin, you need to:

  1. Plant seeds
  2. Water the seeds
  3. Remove diseased/damaged pumpkins
  4. Weed the plant
  5. Identify the stronger faster-growing pumpkin leaves and get rid of the rest, repeat until there’s only one pumpkin per vine
  6. Focus ALL of your attention on the big, beautiful, strong pumpkin and nurture it like a human baby
  7. Watch it grow

What does any of this have to do with your writing?

  1. Plant seeds. Brainstorm ideas for your writing, write down as many possible topics or themes as you can think of. Don’t hold back and don’t self-edit at this point.
  2. Water seeds, removed diseased damaged pumpkins, weed the plant and identify the fastest growing pumpkin leaving one per vine.  Pick one idea and go with it, get rid of the bad ideas and focus on your very best one. 
  3. Focus all of your attention on the strong pumpkin and nurture it. Focus on your idea for your novel and forget about writing anything else. Nurture your novel, take care of it, edit, rewrite, be thorough with your research and make necessary changes, add more plot twists, develop characters further etc.
  4.  Watch it grow. Put the work in and watch yourself grow as an author. Keep growing and developing your skills. 

Who knew that such good writing advice could come from pumpkin growing? Happy planting, X LLB

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