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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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Everyone is Better Than Me…

April 18, 2019– As writers, we often think this. It usually happens when we run out of coffee and are staring at a blinking cursor on a blank page while simultaneously banging our head against the desk. Let me be honest, there are a lot of writers out there who ARE better at writing than you. And they’re better than me too. Sometimes it comes down to basic things like sentence structure, plot lines, and good old-fashioned storytelling. Listen, we have to accept the fact that we aren’t as good as we could be and that there is always room for improvement. The point is, what are you going to do about it?

 

  1. Start reading more. I’m serious. If you’re not reading, you can’t possibly have the tools or the knowledge to be able to write like you should. Get your hands on anything and keep reading. We know this from literacy studies with kids; the studies show that kids who read more do better in writing and in school. Let’s take a page out of their book (pun totally intended) and read as much as possible.
  2. Find your weak spots. If you don’t know where your writing sucks, ask someone to tell you. Join a group of professionals or give your manuscript to someone who doesn’t like you. I’m not kidding, the problem with having our work critiqued by family and friends is that they love us and the last thing they want to do is hurt our feelings. Why do you think I’ll never send a manuscript to my mother? Because I could copy the phone book (do these still exist?) and she would say it’s the best thing she’s ever read. You need honest feedback if you want to become a better writer. Once you find your weak spots you can fix them. You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge.
  3. Practice won’t make you perfect, but it will make you better. If you’re not writing something every single day, then you’re not serious about becoming a writer. You need to be constantly writing because it will help you refine your craft and find your voice. Practice writing introductions, practice writing characters and plot lines, practice writing endings if these are the points you’re lacking in. Like the post on Monday, it takes approximately 10,000 hours of doing something to become an expert. How are you supposed to become an expert if you’re not practicing daily? Listen, you’re never going to be perfect and you’re going to have people who hate your work. But, if you’re willing to take it all in stride and continually improve then you will be successful. You’re not everyone’s cup of tea nor should you be. Your writing voice is as unique as your perspective of the world is. Keep going no matter what.

There are writers who are better than us and there always will be. Don’t let that stop you from doing what you want to do with your life. X LLB

 

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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