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People Hate Change…So Who Gives AF?

April 22, 2019– Happy Easter, everyone. I trust that you enjoyed the time spent with your family over the long weekend and around here, our weekend was also about enjoying playoff hockey! Whatever you ended up doing, I hope that you had a nice time. Today’s blog post is about change and why humans hate it. It’s a bit of a rant on my part, so buckle up.

Recently I started going to a personal trainer because I want to get my endurance back and some strength back that I had lost over the past year. Someone who will remain unnamed, said the following right to my face, “Oh dear, I hope that you don’t get too bulky and start to look masculine.” WOW! Can you believe it? It took everything in me not to throw this person a beating. But, I digress. People don’t know how to keep their mouths shut and they seem to think that everyone is entitled to their opinions whether asked for or not.

So what if I get super ripped? So what if I start to look better and feel better about my strength and endurance levels? Does this person know that about a year ago after my concussion that I could barely stand? Do they know that I could not lift my left arm higher than my waist because the pain was excruciating? Do they know that I wasn’t able to exercise for a year without having massive anxiety attacks? Of course not. People only see what they want to see and they don’t ever have all of the facts.

The point is, people are judgemental idiots no matter what, but ESPECIALLY when the people around them start to change. People fear change. They fear it because they are uncomfortable with it and if you change too much, they may have to change too; they’re quite content doing what they’re doing and being who they are. They don’t want to have to step up their game or put in the work, or deal with change because that would require being uncomfortable on their part. They like things just the way they are.

That’s why people are going to say, “Oh, you’re writing a book? Isn’t that hard?” Or “I’ve heard it’s super hard being an indie author and most of them don’t make more than a few hundred dollars a year.” Or “How are you going to write a book, take care of your kids, and go to your job, isn’t that a bit selfish of you?”

The bottom line? Who Gives AF? Do what you want to do because life is too short. There will always be people who say you can’t do something or that you shouldn’t do something or that it will be too risky or too hard. Those people are showing you THEIR limitations, NOT yours.

So as they say in hockey, “Keep your chin up, kid,” and do whatever you want to do anyway. Never apologize for trying to be the best version of yourself no matter WHO you make uncomfortable.

Go Bruins, 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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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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Diary of a Wimpy Kid…Writing Advice from Jeff Kinney

April 15, 2019– I love this advice from none other than Jeff Kinney! I also love that he mentioned another fabulous book (which I adore), Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. Check out the video below and also check out the books!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SP5bOnLaj3c

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Did You Blow It?

April 12, 2019– Uh oh, did you totally screw up? Did you drop the ball? Did you blow your one and only shot at properly marketing your book? Well, the good news is, you can start over and begin again, this time more intelligently. Today we’re talking about the top three book marketing mistakes that authors make. Is this you? I hope not.

  1. Starting too late. This is the number one thing that will KILL your sales and have you spending money like it’s no one’s business. Waiting until your book is published before marketing it is a terrible idea. It is NEVER too early to start marketing your book. NEVER TOO EARLY.
  2. Scattered efforts. If your book is for everyone, it’s for no one. I say this all the time. Same goes for your book launch. If you’re scattering your marketing efforts then you’re also scattering your money and time. Please don’t market your book to everyone! This is a huge mistake and such a waste of energy.
  3. Phase Fatigue. Hold the phone, there’s more marketing? Honestly, where did you think you were coming today? Yes, of course, there is more marketing to be done. Marketing is like a human baby, if you don’t feed and water it daily, it’s going to die. Ok, maybe I should have used a plant as a better example. The book launch is only the FIRST phase of your marketing plan! If you don’t continue to nurture each phase of your launch, your book will wither and die (annnnd there’s the plant analogy).

If you’ve done any of these things or haven’t done them properly, stop. STOP. RIGHT. NOW. Focus your efforts, come up with a plan, and start again. I’m always here to help if you want a free consult (30 minutes) all you need to do is email me (pandapublishing8@gmail.com) and I’ll guide you back onto the yellow brick road.

Here’s to your success! 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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This Could Be The Shortest Blog Post Ever…

April 3, 2019– Did you see the image that goes along with this blog post? It says, How to Sell Books Without Marketing. I’m going to tell you exactly how to do that in two simple words, YOU. CAN’T.  It makes me crazy when people go around spewing incorrect and irresponsible advice to self-published authors who really want to sell their books.

Marketing is the catalyst that moves EVERY business, not just the book business! Without marketing, how are prospective readers ever going to find out about your work? Without marketing how can they find where to buy your book? Where can they find out about you as an author and how can they find out about new releases you have coming out? ONE WORD. MARKETING. Let’s explore a couple of different options for the best ways to market your self-published book.

  1. Word of mouth. We all know that word of mouth is the best way to sell anything; from movie tickets, insurance, books, and everything in between, word of mouth is the most trusted source of marketing. Word of mouth marketing is the most effective form of marketing because people trust the opinions of others (their peers, friends, relatives, and their immediate circle of people). Let’s say that you’re out on the weekend with some friends and one of them tells you about a fabulous new restaurant in your town; they talk about how excellent the service was, how fast their food came out, and the stunning decor of the restaurant. They also tell you that it was the best steak they’ve ever had and that you must try it! What are you going to do? You’re going to check it out of course! Same goes for books, readers who liked your book are more likely to tell others about it, this will lead to more sales of your title and at the very least, more hits on your website!
  2. Interactive marketing. This is also known as event-driven marketing which means that your readers have a two-way communication channel to connect them to your company. You as the author interact with your readers on many different levels and some of these include, shows, book signings, skype sessions, library talks, and any time you’re out in public. Interactive marketing is essential to your success because it lets your readers know that you care about them and what they have to say. It lets you meet them face to face and create a two-way relationship!

The above two types of marketing are obviously not an exhaustive list of all the options that are available, but they are an excellent and most important place to start.

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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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Eat the Frog…Don’t Eat the Frog

March 25, 2019-Should you eat the frog? Not eat the frog? Wait, eat what?  We’re not talking about actual frogs here, thank goodness! We’re talking about a book by Brian Tracy called Eat That Frog in which the statement is a metaphor for tackling the most essential tasks first on your to-do list.

You and I both know that there will never be enough time to complete each and everything on your list, but the most successful people don’t try to do everything anyway! We need to remember to focus on the tasks that have the highest return on investment (ROI), that being what can we do right now that will have the greatest impact on our business or writing career? Let’s look at my list of to-dos for today as an example:

  1. Finish writing Jessica Westlake
  2. Send Becoming James Cass to the editor *
  3. Follow up with all clients to ensure they have their questions answered *
  4. Blog posts for the month (12)
  5. Podcasts for the month (8)
  6. Inventory and supply ordering
  7. Accounting
  8. Events
  9. Obtain new business *
  10. Social media post scheduling

My MIT’s or Most Important Tasks have an asterisk beside them, notice that I only picked three of them:) Why? Because the current tasks have the greatest ROI and frankly, everything else can wait or be delegated. Here’s my stream of thinking: I’ll be able to write Jessica Westlake while I’m waiting in the airport and while on the four-hour flight. The blog posts are done for the rest of the month so I can schedule the posts for April without being in a panic, same goes for the podcasts. I’ll delegate the accounting and inventory ordering to my accountant and I’ll get my assistant to see what events we should be going to. I have three days worth of social media posts scheduled and ready to go, so I’ll deal with scheduling more in a couple of days or while I’m waiting somewhere.

All it comes down to is being organized and knowing what your priorities are. Make your list and look at it truthfully, what can wait? Which frogs do you need to eat first? What can you delegate?

Here are some questions that you should answer to get clear on what you need to do:

  1. Which of your daily tasks are really helping you achieve your goals?
  2. Which tasks are just really distractions to keep you from doing the important stuff?

Once you can answer these two questions truthfully, you’ll be productive rather than busy (which is another word for unorganized, unmotivated, and procrastination). Eat that frog!

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The Benefits of Writing Groups

March 8, 2019- Up until about a year ago, I was a regular member of a local writing group that met each Saturday at a coffee shop in town. It was super relaxed and there were around eight of us, laptops in hand, armed with new ideas, and ready to write. It was a fantastic experience and some of the things I learned along the way, I still carry with me today. The only reason why I stopped going was that I ran out of time and my writing business took over with events that were held on weekends. Being part of a casual writing group was a great experience and here’s why you should consider joining one:

  1. You’ll get inspired and beat writer’s block. There’s something to be said about gathering in a small group and sharing ideas. Some of my best book ideas have come from just chatting with others and listening to their perspectives on different topics.
  2. You’ll develop discipline. Every Saturday for two hours from 9 am until 11 am is when our group met and started writing. This helped me develop discipline; it made me realize that I could sit down for two consecutive hours and write, uninterrupted.
  3. You’ll get and be able to give constructive criticism. This was the most important thing that I got out of joining a writing group. My comrades gave me constructive criticism and made me take a hard look at my writing. They saw the holes that I was blind to. They asked the tough questions that made me a better writer and for that, I’m eternally grateful. I was also able to give feedback and trust my instincts that I knew what I was doing and what I was talking about as a writer.
  4. You’ll get to network with like-minded people and make some friends. There are people that I’m still friends with from this group and I’ve also been able to do business with a few of them. We still talk about writing and bounce ideas off each other every once in a while.

I highly recommend joining a local writer’s group! You’ll have a blast and be able to hone your skills at the same time. Happy writing! X LLB