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What Is Your Personal Brand?

July 24, 2019-Hold on a second, what exactly is a personal brand and why does it matter? When we talk about brands or branding we automatically think of names like Nike, Starbucks, Apple, Amazon, and Coke. Personal branding is a bit different in that you develop a professional identity that sets you apart from others in your field. Remember your roommate in college who was known for her massive shoe collection? Or what about the guy on the third floor in accounting that wears a different, goofy tie every day? Like it or not, that’s one type (and often unplanned) of personal branding. Personal branding helps you and here’s how:

  1. Numerous benefits to your career. Standing out from the crowd is essential in today’s job hunting market and branding can often be the deciding factor when it comes down to choosing between two hires. It could be the unique presentation of your resume cover letter that nets you the job, or maybe your knowledge of obscure, historical facts, whatever it is, being known for something is almost always a good thing!
  2. Builds confidence. When you’ve built a solid personal brand, it shows that you are confident in yourself. And when clients or prospective employers see this, they have confidence in your abilities.
  3. Gains trust. People work with brands they trust and brands that haven’t let them down over the years. With a strong personal brand and doing what you say you’re going to do/delivering what you say you’re going to deliver, you gain people’s trust. Trust can’t be bought and once it’s broken, you’re in trouble and your personal brand could be too far gone to repair.

Personal branding has so many other benefits! How are you building your brand? X LLB

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Publisher’s Corner…(I answer your most burning questions)

April 26, 2019– Do you guys think that we should have a weekly blog post titled Publisher’s Corner (inspired by Coach’s Corner with the ever fabulous Don Cherry)where I answer your most urgent questions about publishing/writing? I do and last time I checked, I own the place so I can do whatever I want. Every Friday from here on out, we’ll do it! Sound good? Let’s get started.

I received an email last week that asked, “When should I send my novel to a publisher for consideration?”

There are a few things that you need to keep in mind for submitting your work to a publisher.

  1. AFTER your manuscript is completed.
  2. AFTER you do your research (see who is accepting manuscripts and if that publisher is accepting your genre)
  3. AFTER you query the publisher and they REQUEST your manuscript. Your query better be good by the way.

“But Lacey, why wouldn’t I query first to see if they’re even interested? Then if they are, I’ll finish my book.

Think of it this way, you send us a killer query letter, we love it, and want to see the manuscript, imagine our disdain if your manuscript is unfinished. You’ve completely wasted your time and ours. This is comparable to a real estate agent saying to you, “I’ve found your dream home! It’s got everything you want, a pool, a big backyard, and three car garage!” You’re excited, right? Then she says, “But it’s not for sale.”  That’s how publishers feel when you tell us the manuscript is incomplete. Don’t ever do this, make sure your work is finished before ever considering querying us.

“But Lacey, can’t I just send my book out to a bunch of publishers to better my chances?” 

No. Next question. Just kidding; all kidding aside though, you need to research the publisher that is the best fit for your work. Let’s say that you wrote a middle-grade adventure novel and you sent your manuscript to a publisher who only publishes romantic fiction for adults…again, you’ve wasted your time and ours. Do your research, know who you are submitting to, and know what they publish. If you submit something to us that is totally out of our scope, we realize that not only did you NOT do your research but maybe you don’t care enough about a book deal to do your homework. It also makes us leery of working with you because you’ve shown us that you can’t follow instructions.

“But Lacey, can’t I include my manuscript with the query? It will be more efficient and I won’t have to wait as long for a response.”

Do NOT send your manuscript with the query. If we want it, we’ll ask for it. You also need to be aware of the guidelines. A lot of the time publishers request the first 5-10 pages of your manuscript in the BODY of the email. We don’t open attachments so if you’ve ignored the guidelines and sent us your query and manuscript together…you may as well consider it trashed because we won’t open it.

I know that a lot of this advice seems a bit harsh, but this is the reality of publishing. I want you to have your best shot at success. X LLB

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How to Make Your PowerPoint Presentation Not Look Like Sh*t…

April 22, 2019– We’re (and I mean, me) are getting pretty creative with titles around here as of late (insert eye-roll here). As authors we often find ourselves teaching seminars and workshops about writing and the business of writing. I’ve been on both sides of the fence, one as a teacher and the other as a listener; there’s nothing worse than having/listening to a terrible presentation that is boring and non-educational. PowerPoint presentations can be valuable tools for your audience if done correctly, so naturally, let’s chat about what makes a sh*tty PowerPoint presentation.

  1. Crowding slides with too much text. Your audience isn’t here to read every word you write, they’re here to LISTEN to your presentation and maybe jot down a few important points. Leave your slides with plenty of blank spaces, not only does it look better, but it allows you to stick to the most important points and dialogue with your audience. If all of your content is on the slides why would your audience need you?
  2. Visual distractions. I’m talking about graphics (too many, too large, too small, too stupid) and backgrounds. Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Same goes for meaningless animation-save it because this is business.
  3. Impossible to read. There’s a client of mine who used a font in his email that looked like handwriting; it drove me nuts because I had a hard time figuring out what he was trying to say. Not only did this waste both of our time, but it also came across as extremely unprofessional. Use your fonts wisely and make sure that whatever you choose, that it’s readable. Remember that every PowerPoint presentation is a VISUAL aid for a live presentation.

The bottom line is to create a presentation that will engage your audience rather than overwhelm/put them to sleep.  X LLB

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The Best Time For a Book Launch…

April 8, 2019– Saddle up, partners! I’m about to provide you with a goldmine of information if you’re a self-publisher. Let me back up for a sec, you’ve written your book, it’s ready to sell, and you’re ready to launch , but now what? I know some of you are screaming at your screen, “WHAT? I HAVE TO KNOW WHEN TO LAUNCH ON TOP OF THE MILLION OTHER THINGS I HAVE TO KNOW AS A SELF-PUBBED AUTHOR?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” Yes. And I’m sorry, not sorry. You’ll thank me in a second because I’m about to gift wrap the info and hand it to you on your choice of platter. And away we go…

January: Self-help, goal setting, motivational and inspirational books

February: Love, romance, and poetry books

March: Baseball, sports, spring, books for women

April: Religious, memoir, Easter, WW2 fiction

May: Summer reads, history, and parenting (Mothers)

June: Contemporary fiction, parent/fatherhood

July/August: Fiction (especially heavy themes)

September: History, politics, school/college

October: Mysteries, horror, thrillers, and yes, kid’s books lol!

November: Holiday, cookbooks, kid’s books, religion

December: DON’T LAUNCH ANYTHING THIS MONTH

So there you have it! The best times to launch your self-published work during the year. Sticking to this schedule will add to your success and that’s my biggest wish for you as a fellow author.

If your self-published work is struggling and sales aren’t where you want them to be, drop me a line at pandapublishing8@gmail.com any time this month for a free, 30-minute consultation. Let’s see how we can help!

X LLB

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All Of Your Books Have Money In Them…

April 1, 2019– It’s the first day of April! Yay! Let’s hope that spring is in the air and that we’ll finally be able to venture outside sans parka. Today, I want to talk about the value of the books that you already have on/in your bookshelf, Kindle, iPad, phone, and digital libraries; it may seem crazy to think that every single book you own has the potential to make you a lot of money. I can’t remember who said it, maybe it was Mark Cuban, but whoever it was said, “Each book I read has at least one, million-dollar idea inside.” How do you find the money? Let’s explore!

  1. Inspiration to write your own book. This is definitely one way to make some dollars especially if you’re already a writer with an established reader base, but even if you aren’t, you can always find ideas to write about that could be the key to unlocking a potential book deal with a publisher!  Looking through books you already have can spark a new idea for a book of your own. After all, where do new ideas come from, right?
  2. Advice you can follow. If you have books about investing, the stock market, how to save money, and other financial advice, imagine implementing just one idea and how far ahead you could be this time next year! This happened to me personally when I read the book titled Profit First-it changed the way I budget for my business and I’ve never looked back!
  3. An idea that you can implement. Let’s say that you’re a cat lover/expert and you’ve got Modern Cat Magazine strewn across your furniture and on every nightstand in your home; it may be enough to spark a new idea that can make you money such as developing a new toy for cats, or a cat sitting business, or hosting a cat show that you’re going to spearhead in your city. Maybe you know enough about cats to query the magazine for a writing gig; you never know when inspiration can hit like a pound of catnip!
  4. A new view on an old perspective. This happens a lot in medical journals with new information coming to light all the time. First coffee was bad for us (this sentence was difficult to write and totally blasphemous), now it’s good. Then it was too much sleep, too little sleep, cell phones are bad, cell phones are good (debatable), and the list goes on and on.  Sometimes all it takes is a different perspective to open up a new side of your brain and spark an idea. By solving new problems, you can make a lot of dough. For example, you’ve been doing a lot of reading on the benefits of essential oils, perhaps you could host a workshop where people can make their own combinations or host a talk at your local health food store about how essential oils changed your life! The possibilities are endless.

We know that knowledge is freedom, but did you know that knowledge is also financial freedom if you act on it? Here’s to your success now and always! X LLB

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Mini Habits (They’ll change your writing life!)

March 1, 2019– I was boarding a flight in Toronto recently, and while we were getting on the plane, I overheard a woman and her son talking about a book. Of course, I’m always interested in book recommendations, so I continued to eavesdrop. The young man said quietly to his mother, “This book is amazing, it’s easy, straightforward, and I think this will work for what I’m trying to accomplish!” The book that he had in hand was titled, Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. I headed to my seat and took out my phone because the boy had piqued my curiosity. Of course, I had no idea what he was trying to accomplish in his life, but I thought the book sounded intriguing and he sure seemed to believe in it!

I looked up the book jacket info on Amazon and read some of the reviews; they were pretty impressive. I downloaded the audio version and plugged in while we waited on the tarmac. The book, in a nutshell, is about how most of our behaviour happens on autopilot and if we set small goals such as a single push up, once we’re in position, we’ll always do more. Eventually, these small goals will become habits, and we will operate from a place of automation instead of force. So, how can mini habits change your writing life? I’m so glad you asked!

  1. You’ll exceed your goals if you start small. When I first became an author, I created mini habits unbeknownst to myself; I would write every day for only fifteen minutes. Soon those fifteen minutes each day became a habit and the fifteen minutes turned into an hour or more. I have an author friend who started writing only fifty words per day. Soon, his fifty words per day multiplied into fifteen pages per day. The point is, if you set a small goal and stick to it, you’ll reach your goal, and you’ll be motivated to do more.
  2. You’ll create discipline without out even realizing. If you create a mini habit of listening to a business audio book every time you get in the car, or a mini habit of reading one page of a book per day, you’re creating discipline in your life and discipline equals freedom. You would have a massive amount of knowledge in one year if you read one page per day or listened to something while traveling! These mini habits will translate into big results because they will become as automatic and as disciplined as brushing our teeth before bed. Why do we brush our teeth before bed? I don’t know, because it’s a habit that we’ve had since childhood and we just do it. See what I mean?
  3. You’ll get out of your comfort zone. I make it a mini habit of handing out one business card per day. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but over the course of a year it sure adds up! You can cover a lot of ground and grow your writing business if you just implement this one small thing. You could use this approach for sending out queries, submitting manuscripts, connecting with a stranger, or meeting new people. Having a mini habit is an excellent way to get you out of your comfort zone and into a better writing life. Imagine sending 300+ queries out to publishers or agents in a year? That’s a lot of action, and statistically, something is bound to happen!

Start with small mini habits and watch them grow into something amazing! In a later post, perhaps we’ll talk about taking this concept one step further with habit stacking. Stay tuned!

 

 

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This is Cool and Useful…

October 12, 2018– Ok, fellow writers; I found this online and it’s pretty exciting! Check out this list of bones, organs, cells, and blood in the human body. Why is this interesting and valuable you ask? Because depending on the genre that you write, a list like this may come in handy especially if your characters are going to be fatally injured. Once again it all comes down to credibility in your writing!

Let’s say your character gets cracked in the ribs or needs open heart surgery, now you know a bit more about what you’re talking about and your reader will appreciate your knowledge. Here’s a little taste of a scene I just cooked up; I hit him so hard that the next day in emergency, the x-ray showed I had fourteen broken bones in my left hand. I never thought I’d be a southpaw when it came to fighting, but I guess it was just a matter of survival. 

Happy Writing! X LLB

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Are You Making These Mistakes?

April 11, 2018-Here are some excellent examples of mistakes that aspiring creative writers make! Which ones are you making?

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How Much Romance Do You Need in Your Life?

March 21, 2018- How much romance does one need? For me…not so much. I’m not a fan of the genre in a Harlequin sense, but I do enjoy the occasional cozy romance for a fun, easy read to cleanse my mind of the murders I read and write:) But, if Romance is your thing, check out the cheat sheet below for a sure fire way to stay on track. All genres follow some sort of template in regards to what happens when, and Romance is no exception! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below:) Keep writing!

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