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Personal Development

October 21, 2020-What’s the number one thing you can do to increase your book sales, make more money, and live the writing life you’ve always dreamed of? Personal Development. What does that mean? According to Wikipedia, Personal development is defined as activities that improve: awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance the quality of life and the realization of dreams and aspirations. Personal development can take place over the course of a person’s entire life.

Here are some things you can do to help with your own personal development:

  1. Read in your field. Studies show that reading one hour per day in your chosen field of work will put you in the top 10 percent of your industry within one year.
  2. Audiobooks and podcasts. People spend around 240 hours per year (approx. 30 days) driving to work. Did you know that if you listen to podcasts and audiobooks during that time, it would add up to the same time it takes to complete a university class? Use your time wisely and build your knowledge.
  3. Seminars/Continuing education. There are tons of free classes, seminars, and workshops that you can take to improve your skills. Check out your local library or college/university to see what they offer.
  4. Find a mentor. Mentors can prove to be invaluable. They can give you advice, help you troubleshoot issues, and introduce you to new people, ideas, and help you brainstorm.
  5. Study the greats. So, you want to write like Stephen King? Have you read his books? Have you read On Writing? What does he do to be a best seller? How many bestsellers does he have? How does he market himself? What does his social media look like? Do you follow him? You get the point.

The bottom line is success leaves clues. We live in a world where we can access whatever information we choose within fractions of seconds. The good news is, whatever you want to do has probably already been done before! That means that if you want to be a best-selling author, for example, you can find out what other best-selling authors did to get there. If we continually improve ourselves and expand our knowledge base, there’s nothing we can’t do!

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The BS Story You Tell Yourself

September 16, 2020-Tuesday, while on my daily run, I saw a man jogging along the mountain brow, pushing his baby in a stroller at around 6:30 in the morning. I admired his commitment to fitness and also that he brought his kid with him. Then I started to think about all of the excuses he could have had; It’s too cold, I want to sleep in, I’ll just skip today, I’ll leave my son at home with my spouse, I don’t want to wake him up, it’s too early, and the list could go on and on.

The point is, we all tell ourselves BS stories that are just an out for the things we know we should be doing; we give ourselves too many passes and a bunch of reasons as to why we can’t do something. I’m here to tell you that it’s time to stop lying to yourself. Here are the most common excuses that I hear from authors/writers/entrepreneurs:

  1. I don’t have time- I hear this constantly; I don’t have time to finish my manuscript, there aren’t enough hours in a day, it’s taking way too long to finish my first draft, I’m too busy to write. Etc. Etc.
  2. I have writer’s block- I can’t think of a plotline, my story isn’t working, there aren’t any good ideas left, I just stare at my blank computer screen, but nothing comes to mind, I can’t focus. Etc. Etc.
  3. I’ll do it tomorrow-Tomorrow will be a better day; it can wait until tomorrow to finish; I’ll just skip today and do it tomorrow etc. etc.
  4. I can’t afford it- Continuing education is too expensive; I can’t afford to keep my membership to (insert name of author or writing organization here), the course is too much money. Etc. Etc.
  5. My work isn’t good enough- I don’t want to let anyone read this, it’s too personal, I don’t think it’s good enough to send to a publisher, I’ll wait until it’s perfect before letting you read it. Etc. Etc.
  6. It didn’t pay off. The show was slow, so there’s no point in going again this week; I didn’t cover my table cost, I didn’t sell that many books, I was bored the whole time and could be doing something more constructive with my time. Etc. Etc.

So, what’s the BS story you keep telling yourself and what success is it holding you back from?

I don’t have time* Solution-wake up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later.

I have writer’s block*Solution-change your space, get the words on the page and stop self-editing.

I’ll do it tomorrow* Solution-tomorrow may never come, do it today.

I can’t afford it* Solution-look into grants, stop buying stupid things, start budgeting, contact the organizer to see if they’ll work with you, ask about payment plans, buy a book or borrow one from the library on the subject you’re interested in furthering your education with.

My work isn’t good enough*Solution-send it in anyway, let others read it, do better and improve your skills by asking for feedback and constructive criticism.

It didn’t pay off*Solution-give away literature, up your game with your table display, talk to other vendors, entice people to come to your booth with a free draw, measure the value in other ways-How many connections did you make? How many emails did you get? What opportunities did you drum up? How many people did you talk to about literacy? It may not pay off this second, but it sure could in the future.

Stop making excuses and giving yourself a way out. Do what you need to do day in and day out to be successful. No one said it would be easy, but it will be worth it.

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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.