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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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Things You Should Know…

February 25, 2019-I had a fantastic trip to New York this month, and I learned so much at the SCBWI conference. The Society of Book Writers and Illustrators is just one of the many excellent organizations you can join as an author; the guidelines and specifications are online, so be sure to check them out if you’re interested in becoming a member.

Being an author is a tough business, but you should never give up if story writing is your dream. Here are a  few things that you should know:

  1. You are way more capable than you believe. You can do this, you can deal with the rejections, you can write something special and meaningful. Some days it may seem like you’re banging your head against the desk because the words won’t come, but I assure you, you can do this! Keep going.
  2. Lots of people believe in you and want to see you succeed; they also want to help you in achieving your goals. Your family, friends, community, spouse, loved ones, and teachers all want to see you make it! They’re cheering you on, and if you ever need help, all you need to do is ask them, and they’ll be thrilled to do so. We can’t be in this business alone, and we won’t get very far by ourselves.
  3. You have a choice. You can choose to listen to those who want to try and change your purpose, your work, your ideas, your vision, and your path, or you can go with your gut and keep writing and sharing the stories you want to tell.
  4. The truth is, the publishing and writing industry is contradictory at times, and you never seem to get a straight answer. Keep digging for information and advice and go with the choices that speak to you. If you’re a children’s author and you think you need an agent, don’t hesitate to go with your gut even when you get conflicting information.
  5. This is a business. Our business is books and storytelling. Our job is to tell the stories and then sell the stories.

I hope that you get the chance to visit New York and see all that it has to offer! From museums to sporting events, to Broadway and beyond, the arts and inspiration are around every corner. X LLB

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One of the breathtaking pieces of art that I saw at the MET, Alexander the Great
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The Difference between Success and Failure for the Authorpreneur

February 15, 2019– I do a lot of talks and host a lot of classes on writing and publishing, and at least once per class this question comes up: What does it take to become a successful author/entrepreneur? Is there a secret formula? Is there a quick fix, magic wand or potion that can help? If you read my blog or have met me in person, you’ll know exactly what I think of that. The short answer is NO to all of the above. What I can tell you is that there are strategies and actions that will lead you to success and that they’re way better than any magic wand.

  1. Believe that you can do it. I know, I know, I’m usually a hard ass that says stop wishing and start working, but I want to remind you that if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. See? There’s the cynic you’ve all come to know and love. You’ve got to have the mental posture for success. Believing in yourself requires daily dedication, encouragement from within and positive self-talk. What’s that famous saying? Whether you think you can or think you cannot, you’re right!
  2. Have the right people around. I’m talking about everyone from the people you employ to the people you hang around with on a frequent basis; if they’re not forcing you to up your game and become a better author and entrepreneur, then you’ve got the wrong group. If you want to be successful, you have to hang around successful people. Have a mentor, have the right heroes, and have people that you look up to.
  3. Expose yourself to what is new. Did you learn anything today? Your competition did. You must stay on the cusp of what is happening in your industry to stay informed and relevant. The more you learn, the more you earn. Are you reading publications that will make you a better writer? Do you subscribe to content that will make you see things from an entrepreneur’s perspective? Are you learning the business and are you striving to be better than you were yesterday? Can you name the current trends in your industry? If you said no to any of the above questions, you’ve got a lot of work to do.
  4. Take responsibility. Can you guess who is directly, unequivocally, 100% responsible for your success? That’s right, YOU — no one else. When the bus goes sideways, and you’re the driver, you have no one else to blame. Blaming others for your actions, decisions, and ramifications of those decisions is a gigantic waste of your time. And let me tell you something else, if you blame others, you won’t be in business very long. Successful people take responsibility for every choice they make and for everything that happens to them whether good or bad. Your name is on the door so act like it.
  5. Take action. Come on; you had to have known that this was coming if you’re a regular reader of this blog. Action is the only way to get what you want. You can dream about things until you finally wake up and see the world for what it is; the only people who reap rewards are the people who are willing to work for them. Nothing happens until you do something. Don’t be all talk and no action. I can’t stand people like that. You are what you DO, NOT what you say you’ll do.

Here’s to your success! May you get what you deserve. X LLB

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The Power of Thinking Negatively…

February 6, 2019– I’m sure that most of us have heard about the power of positive thinking and how optimism can add years to our lives. I do not disagree with all of that good stuff, but I am saying that there are both sides to a coin; sometimes thinking about what could be wrong, is the right thing to do. Let’s back up for a second.

The Power of Positive Thinking was written by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and is an international best selling book with over five million copies in print; pretty impressive! Here’s what an excerpt online says about the book: The Power Of Positive Thinking will show you that the roots of success lie in the mind and teach you how to believe in yourself, break the habit of worrying, and take control of your life by taking control of your thoughts and changing your attitude. Great! Is that all I have to do is change my thoughts? Not so fast. Here’s where the skeptic in me shines through.

It’s one thing to think good thoughts, but it’s quite another to take action toward your goals. You can sit on your sofa all day and think about collecting cheques in the mail, but if you don’t get off your butt and earn some money, you’ll lose your house eventually. It’s not to say that I’m a pessimist, I’m really not. I believe that all things start in the mind and that if you control your thoughts and your attitude, and put forth consistent action toward your goals, that you can achieve anything. But, it’s the combination of these things that is the ticket. You can have a terrible attitude and take tons of action toward your goal, and I’d be willing to bet that you won’t achieve it. Sometimes it’s a good thing to think negatively…let me explain.

Here’s how the power of thinking negatively can actually help us in the long run:

  1. It causes us to THINK before we act. Thinking of the worst case scenario allows us to stop and think before we make rash decisions. It allows us to think CLEARLY not QUICKLY. Thinking negatively can help us consider if the next move we make will create an unexpected chain reaction in the future. Quitting your full-time job to start a writing career is a big risk. We should think of this situation from a slightly negative point of view in order to have the best possible plan going forward. Perhaps once we see our budget and expenses are in order, we could take the leap, for example.
  2. We won’t take success for granted. To say, “Don’t worry! Everything will be okay!” to someone who is unable to pay the bills is like poking holes in a sinking ship. If you practice this type of thinking while ignoring reality, you are being reckless and dangerous. We need to eliminate false illusions that create or compound our problems instead of pretending they don’t exist. One of my biggest fears? Being a one hit wonder. Nothing scares me more than being a has-been. That’s why when I look at things, I look at them from a slightly skewed, negative perspective that reminds me to work harder even on the days when I don’t feel like it.
  3. It let’s us know where we are vulnerable and how to fix those vulnerabilities. Thinking negatively can let us examine where our weaknesses lie. Let’s say that you’re going to pitch your book to some agents for the first time ever, what could your vulnerabilities be? This goes for anything with your writing whether it’s submitting a query, doing a public speaking engagement, or signing a book deal; if we don’t know what our weaknesses are, how can we possibly fix them?

Yes, think positively and have a good attitude! But every now and then, examine the situation from the other side of the dock. Happy Writing! X LLB

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I Challenge You to Challenge Your Challenges…

January 18, 2018-Read the title again. It sounds confusing, I know, but in reality, it’s quite simple. This year I want you to challenge your challenges! But what does that mean? Let me help you with the process:

  1. Make a list of all of the challenges you’ve had in your writing career to date. I’m talking everything. Some of these challenges might include not getting a traditional publishing deal, not meeting deadlines, not getting enough or any speaking engagements, not selling enough books or earning enough income to survive with your work. Maybe it’s not having enough time to sit down and write or scheduling blocks of writing sessions. Perhaps you haven’t been able to join any associations, or you haven’t been able to do any continuing education for your writing. Whatever the challenges you’ve experienced, write them ALL down.
  2. Make a list of all of your writing accomplishments to date. Yes, again, this means everything! Perhaps you’ve been able to read your book in schools, or maybe you’ve had something published in one of your favourite magazines, perhaps you’ve been able to secure a grant for the historical fiction book you’re writing, or maybe you’ve been asked to be a guest speaker somewhere. Maybe you’ve started a blog that has received tons of visits, or maybe you’ve self-published a book on Amazon. Whatever the accomplishment, however big or small, be sure to write it down.
  3. Find the gap in between. This is where challenging your challenges comes in to play; look over your list of accomplishments, look at everything you’ve been able to do thus far, you should be proud of yourself! Now study the two lists you’ve made and find the gap in between, the difference in between your challenges and your accomplishments is ACTION. So, let’s go back to the challenges list and use not having any speaking engagements as an example. Why haven’t you had any? Have you put forth enough action? Have you contacted everyone you know? Have you sent out emails introducing yourself and what your work is about? Have you labeled yourself as an expert in your field and have you knocked on every door to see if people are interested in what you have to say? Now, if you look at your list of accomplishments, do you remember what you had to do to get there? Do you remember the hours you put in? Do you remember the emails, postcards, phone calls, rejections, and getting up and trying again? When you apply enough effort to something, eventually, you get exactly what you want. Apply the same amount of effort to your challenges as you did to your accomplishments, and soon enough, the list of accomplishments will grow, while the list of challenges, changes.

I love the saying, you can do anything you set your mind to, even though I believe something needs to be added to that statement. Here’s what I’ll say instead, “You can do anything you set your mind to and anything can be accomplished with enough effort, discipline, and action.”

This year, I challenge you to challenge your challenges. Happy writing! 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 

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So You Want to Run a Writing Business…

September 19, 2018– So you want to run a writing business, congratulations! Do you know what you really want?

A lot of authors branch off into offering writing services to the general public. It may be editing or consulting, helping someone flesh out ideas for their book, or it can even be assisting self-published authors with the long publishing journey ahead. Whatever it is, before you begin, make sure you have a head for business.

I’m not going to mention money or charges or price structure in this post because that is entirely up to you! What I am going to talk about are the most important things you need to do before you even THINK about pricing your services.

As I own a full-service publishing house, I have some tips on running a successful writing business:

  1. What are you offering? Make sure that you’re clear about what you do and what you don’t do! Do you offer line editing? Revisions and re-writes? Manuscript consultations? Blog hosting? YOU have to know what you do before anyone else can.
  2. Who is your ideal client and what qualities do they possess? When you work with clients you love, you’ll genuinely enjoy the job you’re doing, and that’s when you do your best work! Make a list of the traits your ideal clients have. Are they bright? Resilient? Courageous? Big thinkers? Rapid responders?
  3. Identify your target market of ideal clients. What do you specialize in and who is your niche? Choosing your target market is essential because to reach the people you’re meant to work with, you’ve got to know where to find them. Maybe your writing business is ghostwriting for medical professionals, make a list of where to find the people who need your services!
  4. Determine the biggest result your clients get. What is the number one outcome that you help your target market achieve? Do you help self-published authors get their book from an idea into physical form? Potential clients within your target market must see your services and products as opportunities to receive a return on their monetary investment. What kind of ROI will your clients get from working with you?

It’s imperative to your success that you answer the above questions before getting started. Because as I always say, you can’t hit a target you can’t see. Here’s to your success!

X LLB

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How Well Do You Do This?

August 27, 2018- You are a self-published author. I want to know how well you do this one thing. It’s something that some of us shy away from, it’s something that can be uncomfortable for most, but it’s something that is imperative to your success.

Some of you may be saying, “Of course I do this!” But, for others, death is more welcoming than completing this task.

What is that one something that is imperative to your success as a self-published author? It’s self-promotion! Here’s usually what happens:

  1. Author writes the book. Edits are done, cover designed, etc.
  2. They get someone to print it.
  3. Hundreds of copies of their book sit idle in their garage.

I’ve broken this down to the simplest point. Of course, there is much more that goes into the in-between of writing to print. So, let’s get to the meat of the conversation and talk about the hundreds of copies that just sit idle in the author’s garage and what to do about it! Self-promotion is the key to your success. If people don’t know about you and your book how the heck do you expect them to buy it? Your biggest problem is obscurity. Once people start to take notice in what you’re saying they’ll take notice of what you’re selling.

  1. You MUST create a marketing plan BEFORE your book comes out. Why? Because you need to know where you’re going to know when you’ll get there. Set goals, but develop a comprehensive marketing plan. Author platform is also crucial, but that’s a whole other blog post:)
  2. Self-Promote. Yep, I said it. Get used to talking about yourself, your book, and your work. Get ready to start promoting your book to everyone you come in contact with. Get ready to pound the pavement, have doors slammed in your face, and get ready to be told NO a thousand times. You have to develop a thick skin. There are a lot of haters out there and do you know why? Because they can’t do what you do.
  3. Believe in yourself and your work. You must believe that what you’ve written is valuable and that people want to know about it!  I remember reading the 10 X Rule by Grant Cardone, and one thing in the book stuck out in my mind, it went something like this: “I don’t want to push my product on people!” and Grant Cardone said, “It’s a shame you have a product you don’t believe in.” This hit me like a ton of bricks, and I NEVER hesitated again to approach someone with my books. Do you believe in your words? Do you believe in yourself? If not, don’t bother writing another word. If you don’t care, neither does anyone else. Stop, go get a different job, and chase another dream. Let me tell you something though, believing in yourself is the only way to make your dreams come true. It starts with that. The second thing is taking action. That’s it. It’s that simple.

So, how well do you self-promote? How much do you believe in yourself? How much action do you take?

X LLB

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What is Your Definition?

August 10, 2018- What is your definition of being a successful author? This is the question that I ALWAYS ask the authors that I work with; whether self-published or traditional, it’s important to be able to answer this!

You are the only one who can define success and everyone’s definition and idea of success is different. Here are some answers I’ve received over the years after posing the question:

  • If I sell $1 million dollars worth of books
  • If kids read my book in their school
  • If I have a huge house, and an in-ground pool, and a convertible
  • If people line up to see me at book signings
  • If I become famous around the world
  • If someone tells me I’m their favourite author
  • If my book helps one person
  • If a celebrity reads my book and gives me a shout out on social media
  • If I’m a bestseller on the NY Times list
  • If I get a tv interview
  • If my book gets turned into a movie

So, as you can see, there are a lot of DIFFERENT versions of success and it’s all dependent on how you choose to define it! Write down your version of success and start working towards that goal. There are no wrong answers! Remember, you can’t hit a target that you can’t see. Here’s to your success, whatever that may be.

X LLB

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Top 3 Mistakes of Storytelling!

June 11, 2018– Are you making any of these mistakes while storytelling? If so, STOP! Your writing and sales depend on it.

  1. You’re not telling the story that you want to tell. This means that you care too much about what’s trendy, what’s popular, and what other people are currently reading. This may sound harmless, but what happens is that if you’re writing for trends, you’ve probably already missed the boat and the concept has been done to death. Write what YOU want to read, and you’ll never go wrong!
  2. A weak opening. The first couple of sentences of your novel are CRUCIAL. Why? Because people will stop reading if they get bored. Start where the action is!
  3. Terrible narrative. Terrible narrative makes me mental. Seriously. If you’re not going to sit your reader beside the main character then what’s the point? Your readers need to care about the character, and one of the best ways to do this is to ensure that they FEEL and EXPERIENCE everything your protagonist does.  Your novel is an escape for your reader, you want to take them away to another place and you can’t do this if you have horrible narrative. Pick a point of view and stick to it.

These are just three tips in a myriad of thousands, but I think they’re very important! Here’s to your success!

xLLB

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