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After 40

November 26, 2020-In this interview, bestselling novelist Lee Child (Jack Reacher novels) explains why it’s better to start writing later in life. Writers on Writing: Lee Child on Starting Writing After 40 – YouTube

 

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The Power of First Impressions

November 23, 2020– A few months ago, I packed Luna into the truck and drove for about an hour and a half to deliver some books that were ordered to an establishment in a small town. It was a new account and I was so excited to chat with the owner of the store, talk about the new release, and see if perhaps we could collaborate in the future by cross-promoting each other.  I was also pumped to browse the items she offered, and I needed to do some shopping!

I arrived at the destination, books in hand and pushed through the front door. No one seemed to be around, so I took a few steps further inside. A woman popped up from behind the counter, and suddenly out of nowhere, there were four sales clerks. “Can I help you with something?” the woman asked, and I said, “Hi, I’m Lacey, and I’m here to meet Jane (name has been changed).” The woman paused, “Does she know you’re coming?” I said, “She sure does! I told her I’d be here today at 11, and here I am!” The woman shot me a glare and said, “What was your name again, and what are you here for?” I explained about the book order that I was dropping off and repeated my name.

The woman finally went to get Jane and returned to the counter to chat with the other workers about me apparently being wrong for waltzing into the place and asking to see the owner. Much to my amusement, the experience with the owner was worse!  I smiled and handed her the books. “Thanks,” she said and spun on her heel and left. I was dumbfounded. Was this actually happening? I stood in place for a moment to see if she was just putting down the books and then coming back. She never returned.

I left the store without looking around, without picking out the three birthday gifts I planned on getting, and without posting the collaboration on social media. I was so disgusted by the entire experience that I vowed never to mention the company by name; I unfollowed them on social media and basically washed my hands of the situation. By the time I had walked back to the truck, my phone had dinged with an email notification…it was from Jane. She said, “Thanks for dropping off the order. The books are great! I look forward to meeting you one day.” I laughed out loud. I emailed her back. I said, “You’re welcome. You already have met me; I was in your store five minutes ago.” My phone rang almost instantly, and Jane was on the other end, explaining that she didn’t know I was the owner etc. etc.

Here’s the thing, it shouldn’t matter if I’m the owner, the driver, the receptionist, the plumber, the janitor, or the intern…everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect. That company lost my business that day. They lost my contact, social media support, positive word of mouth advertising, and the wholesale discount I gave them for any future orders. I have no interest in dealing with that business or its employees ever again. First impressions matter! And so do second and third, and fifteenth. I have never felt more like an inconvenience in my life, and I’ve never felt that unwelcome before. It’s too bad because small businesses need our support more than ever. But save your pennies for the places that want to serve you with kindness and respect, the places that are eager to help you and that make you feel welcome.

Your company and your employees are an extension of YOU. You set the standard of care for your customers, and if you’re setting a bad example, why shouldn’t your employees do the same? It all starts at the top. And pleading ignorance is a lame excuse that no one will believe anyway, so don’t bother. Treat people how you want to be treated. It’s that simple. Your first impression can make or break your business!

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We Love You

November 19, 2020-We love working with our clients because they are the BEST! As a full-service publisher, we set out to help authors and businesses with their projects; from copywriting to blogging, social media content creation, author marketing and book marketing services, we know what to say and how to say it! Today I’d like to share with you some letters from our satisfied clients.  Please visit Joanne’s site https://frenchiepublishing.wordpress.com/ and check out her book, available in both English and French!

May 28, 2020

Dear Lacey, I want to thank you and Alex for helping me achieve my goal of publishing The Adventures of Carlos: Carlos Goes on Vacation. Thank you for your encouragement as well as for being there for me every step of the way. I will never forget the thrill of seeing my very first published book!

Lacey, Working with you has been an absolute pleasure, and I am so glad that our paths crossed! Making the investment to contract with Pandamonium Publishing House to self-publish my children’s book was a big decision, but it was also the best decision I made! Your professionalism, mentoring and guidance in publishing The Adventures of Carlos were impressive! As
you indicated in our early conversations, the goal of purchasing your firm’s marketing package is to teach the author how to self publish for immediate and future projects as well as the handling the book illustration process; not only did I learn and gain invaluable knowledge of the publishing world, but it also helped me develop some confidence in a field I knew nothing
about. Being a savvy and successful entrepreneur is surrounding yourself with highly competent individuals; Pandamonium Publishing House delivers on that!

Alex, My sincere thanks for making The Adventures of Carlos look so amazing! The way you captured the character of Carlos and brought him to life in the story was pure magic! I feel so fortunate to have had the pleasure of having you illustrate this story; I hope that we can work together again on the next book in the series, Carlos Goes to the Hospital.

It has been such a great experience working with you both! Thank you for welcoming me into your world at Pandamonium Publishing as well as that of published authors!
Sincerely,
Joanne

Joanne Kilkenny
Frenchie Publishing
WWW.FRENCHIEPUBLISHING.WORDPRESS.COM

We love being part of authors’ journeys, and it’s a pleasure to help with the process. Thank you for trusting us to bring your book to the world.

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Aspirations

November 9, 2020– Who do you aspire to be? Who are your writing heroes? Why do you want to be like them? If I told you that you become like the 5 people you hang around most, would your circle change? It’s important to have aspirations and people to look up to. Role models can motivate and inspire us to do better.

Here’s how positive author role models can help us grow:

  1. They show us characteristics that we need to be successful. Success varies from person to person, but if your role model is a best selling author, you can see what made them successful. Tenacity, discipline, persistence, optimism, and dedication are a few of the characteristics that make our writing heroes successful.
  2. They show us how to overcome obstacles. A lot of authors have rags to riches stories of growing up poor and making it big. They show us that they’ve been single parents, written manuscripts on the back of napkins, and struggled to pay rent, but they still made it. Some of them have had family members with terrible illnesses, some have had health challenges themselves, and have still managed to overcome those things.
  3. They help us become the best versions of ourselves. When we look at our writing role models, we see things in them that we like or dislike about ourselves. Sometimes they inspire us to do better, but some role models that we used to have, fall from grace and show us what we don’t want to be like. Role models allow us clarity and contrast.

The point is that no one is you and that is your power. Aspire to be the best you can be. You never know who you’re a rolemodel for!

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The Making of a Murderer

October 23, 2020-A lot of people who visit our blog are thriller/crime/mystery writers working on novels. These genres usually have more than one thing in common, but let’s talk about the most obvious, murder.

It’s important to get it right when writing murder scenes, and it’s even more important to get the character right. When I was writing Obsessed with Her, I was fortunate enough to have the head of Toronto Homicide consult me on my book; I wanted to make sure the scene was set correctly because I didn’t want to destroy any ounce of my credibility as a writer. I didn’t want cops, law enforcement officers, or savvy readers to pick up my book and say, “That’s not how it works,” while reading the crime scene events, so that’s why I brought in the experts. Research and accuracy are the keys to any great book.

When writing about murder, let’s explore some common traits of serial killers:

  1. Deceitful/Manipulative-What is your character hiding? Who are they lying to? How are they making other characters believe their lies?
  2. Lack of Empathy/Remorse-Has your character shown empathy or remorse when they’ve caused a bad situation or have hurt the feelings of another person? Do they put themselves in another’s shoes, or can they not relate?
  3. Compulsive-Is your character a loose cannon? Do they give in to their wants and desires no matter the cost?
  4. Lack of Self-Control– Does your character do what they want when they want to? Are they unable to help themselves and find themselves getting into trouble because of bad choices?
  5. Antisocial Behaviour-Does your character keep to themself? Do they avoid others, especially when confronted with things they’ve done wrong? Do they go out of their way to be alone?

These behaviours and characteristics need to be woven throughout your book, like a trail of breadcrumbs. Would it help your credibility as an author to create a character that is like Mary Poppins and have them go on a killing spree? Probably not. But if you showed the reader a glimpse of the above traits throughout your book, Mary Poppins could indeed be transformed into a serial killer…now there’s an idea for a book!

If you’d like to join one of our upcoming workshops, Creating Believable Characters, send us an email pandapublishing8@gmail.com, and we’ll be happy to provide you with more information and pricing. Happy Writing, X LLB

 

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Marketing Calendar

October 22, 2020-Are you a self-published author? If you are, I hope that you have a marketing calendar. If you don’t have a marketing calendar or aren’t marketing your book, I’m willing to bet that your customers and potential customers don’t know where to find you and that your sales are less than stellar.

A marketing calendar allows you to be organized in communicating with your audience. Let’s explore Pandamonium Publishing House’s Marketing Calendar:

Daily-Post on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and respond to comments accordingly.
Weekly-4 to 5 times weekly, we do a blog post on our site. We also send a link to our latest post to the list of our subscribers. We do a weekly podcast each Tuesday. Friday, we check in with our Pandamonium Publishing House International Book Club members and discuss the book we’re reading. We mail out 100 direct mail pieces such as brochures and postcards to a mailing list of clients we keep in touch with.
Monthly-We send out a monthly newsletter to all of our subscribers.
Quarterly-We post content on YouTube *We need to increase the frequency of these posts. We send out an email to customers who we haven’t heard from in a while to let them know we are thinking of them and to see how they’re doing.
Annually-We mail out holiday cards to everyone we’ve been in contact with during the past year; customers, vendors, teachers, authors, and businesses.

It’s essential to keep in contact with your readers regularly. You want to serve them in the best way possible but won’t be able to do that if they forget who you are and what you do.

Get your marketing calendar together, execute your plan, and watch your book sales grow!

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Know Your Numbers

October 20, 2020– If you’re an author or publisher, knowing your numbers can mean the difference between life and death (of your book and business). At Pandamonium Publishing House, we LOVE data, analytics, and statistics because they help us find out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to marketing. It’s important to track every campaign because you want to know exactly where your marketing budget/dollars are going and if they are effective.

Here are a few of the things we track DAILY on our website and social media:

  1. New users
  2. Unique users
  3. Total revenue
  4. Purchase conversion
  5. Day 1 retention
  6. Top 10% purchase value
  7. Day 1 average lifetime value
  8. Median session length
  9. User activity time
  10. Users by time of day
  11. Traffic source
  12. Country
  13. Engagement Metrics
  14. Purchases by device type
  15. Age of user
  16. Bounce rates

I know that this looks overwhelming, and it looks like a lot to keep track of, but all of these things are imperative to our books and the business’s success. We use Google Analytics, Facebook/Instagram Analytics on our ads, WordPress analytics for our website, and WooCommerce analytics for our web store.

As a small business owner or author, do you know your numbers? If not, why? You’re wasting your time and money if you’re not paying attention to the stats. How can you spend your money wisely if you don’t know what works and what doesn’t? Short answer-you can’t.

Sometimes I watch the shows Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank, and some of the entrepreneurs come into the den/tank grossly unprepared. They have no idea how much their company is worth, their valuation is off, they don’t know how to forecast, and they don’t know their numbers. Guess what happens? Even if you’ve never watched either of these shows, you’d be able to guess that either their company died, their product died or didn’t reach its full potential, or that they didn’t get the money they were asking for and desperately needed to continue their company.

Don’t let this happen to you! Know what’s going on with your book sales, know what’s happening in your company and where your hard-earned money is going before you waste it on another fruitless campaign. Contact the experts at Pandamonium Publishing House to see how we can help; email us at pandapublishing8@gmail.com for more info.

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Work, Work, Work, Work, Work

October 19, 2020– “To have something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.” I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before, but are you putting those words into practice? If you’re like most people, probably not. What does the quote above mean? It means that to get what you really want, you have to do things differently than you’re doing them now. Old ways won’t open new doors. So take a good look at your writing life and see if you’re where you want to be; if not, then things need to change.

A new, self-published author sent me an email with this question: “I’ve recently self-published my book, but it’s not getting any traction. Do you have any tips on how to increase sales?”

So, I went on to ask them what they were doing so far…their response? “I wrote the book and published it.”
Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. We live in a world where the rewards come AFTER the work, and the price of success needs to be paid in FULL before we see any results. I consulted the author on how to put forth an effort to reach his sales targets and his response was, “That seems like a lot of work.” That’s when I knew that his book was doomed to remain in obscurity. It’s not what you wish for, it’s what you work for.

It drives me absolutely crazy when people say, I want, I want, I want, I want…but won’t say, I will, I will, I will, I will.
I have some homework for you:

  1. Make a list of the MAIN goal you want to reach this year with your writing life e.g. best sellers list, sell x number of copies, have it read by a celebrity, be interviewed on television about your book etc.
  2. Brainstorm ways to make your goal happen e.g. I will send press releases of my book to all major media outlets, I will go to schools and set up author visits, I will visit bookstores to see if they will carry my book etc.
  3. Take action. This is the single most effective thing that you can do to be successful. If you merely write a list and then forget about it, what’s the point of bothering to write the list in the first place?

Put the work in and you’ll reap the rewards. Plain and simple.

 

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The Benefits of Reading Books

October 18, 2020– Check out this infographic on Reading, the Road to Success! I know that we’re Canadian, but sadly, our numbers are close enough to these ones in the United States.  Literacy matters.

 

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Spotlight on Alex Goubar and The Magic Pumpkin Farmer

October 17, 2020- Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with our very own, Alex Goubar; we’ve taken questions from kids and their parents, about her book, The Magic Pumpkin Farmer and Alex has answered them! Her answers are in bold.

Q:  The Magic Pumpkin Farmer is such a colourful book, what inspired the colours you used?
A: Something about bright exciting colours reminds me of magic, I imagine that magic is the opposite of dull. Kate, to me, also feels like the type of girl that would love bright colours such as these (it seems to match her personality!)
Q: What program do you use for illustrating books? What do you like most about it?
A: I used to use Paint Tool Sai, and now I’ve switched over to Procreate on the iPad Pro. What I love most about it is that I can take it anywhere, I’ve drawn book pages in many places and countries!
Q: How did you find the information on the princesses and what they wore as traditional dress from their respective countries?
A: I found information on princesses by doing lots of research on the internet and checking those facts with many sources.
Q:  Have you ever grown magic pumpkins? If yes, what was magic about them? and if no, what would you want your magic pumpkin to do?
A: I’ve never grown magic pumpkins but if I ever do, I would want them to attract all of the neighbourhood cats so I could play with them!
Q: Which princess in the book is your favourite and why?
A: I think Kate’s cat is my favourite princess. Real answer? I am biased and I love the Russian princess because that is my heritage. However, all of them are super unique with such interesting backgrounds and outfits and traditions, they’re all awesome!
Q:  Is that your cat in the book that sleeps on Kate’s pillow? Do you have any pets?
A: Kate’s cat is loosely based on Lacey (the author’s) cat Simba! I have two cats, one Hilander named Athena and one Himalayan named Willy.
Q:  Kate was a farmer when she grew up, what did you want to be?
A: My aspirations have changed probably every month. I wanted to be a writer, an actress, an illustrator, etc. As long as creating was in my future I was happy.
Q: What was the hardest part to draw in the Magic Pumpkin Farmer?
A: All the princesses’ garments took a while to draw, but the Indian-inspired princess was the most difficult because of all her jewelry!
Q:  How long have you been an illustrator for?
A: I would say as soon as I was capable of holding a pencil. Professionally, I started getting paid illustration jobs in the first year of college (as of 2020, 5 years now!)
Q:  What’s the most favourite book you’ve worked on and why?
A: Panda the Very Bad Cat; Farm Frenzy was my favourite. I loved the farm theme and drawing all the cute animals!
Thank you, Alex, for answering the readers’ questions! Did you know that Alex is also the AUTHOR and ILLUSTRATOR of 2 books? The Celestial Squid and The Clouds Above Lamasol Island? How cool is that? Check out her collection of books here: