Friday, August 25, 2017

Strong Women are my Spirit Animal

Since I was a kid, I’ve been a fan of ladies who operate from a ‘kick ass and have no fear’ mentality. Women who aren’t afraid to take risks to get what they want, need. Sometimes that meant the woman was an activist, sometimes it meant she risked her reputation, other times her life.

Those were the women I looked up to. Those women didn’t take no for an answer, didn’t let anything stop them from going after their true calling. They were, and are, about as bad-ass as I could imagine and take a lot of shit because of their spirit. But who says bad-ass is a bad thing?

Because, how does that quote go again? Oh yeah…

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.” 
– Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

And really, who wants to be ‘well-behaved’ anyway?

Some of my earliest interest in how much a woman can do came from women who threw caution to the wind. Dove head first into their feisty soul and made zero apologies.

Joan of Arc, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Madonna, Emily Dickinson.

And, me? I’m here living a simple life, far outside the realm of extremes that my heroines faced in their lives and careers. I’m just a girl publishing some books in a time when girls are allowed to publish books, work for themselves. Because that’s my soul. My calling.

Every time I take on a new challenge and complete it, face a fear and conquer it, I hope to inch one step closer to bad-ass. In my own way.

I feel like I’ve come a long way from the girl who scribbled, incessantly, in a journal, never releasing a single word to the world. The girl who feared and let it stop her from taking work-life by the balls.

As of a few years ago I would shake at the thought of standing up in front of the women’s writers group I belong to and giving just a 30 second introduction. I was so afraid of public speaking, in fact, that it took me well over six months before I forced myself to stand up and talk at all.

Now I take the mic every time I'm there and have some interesting tid-bit of my writing life to share.

Am I still nervous? Hell yes. I always feel like a socially and professionally awkward mess because even when I prepare the words seem to vanish as soon as I rise. But I do it anyway because fear is just an emotion.

Then there was last week. My career took a new and exciting turn as I was interviewed for a podcast for the first time.

Radio. My voice. Many, many people potentially listening to what I had to say.

And I didn’t get advance copies of the questions.

Gulp.

But I sent her some items I definitely wanted to talk about and she worked off my author bio and books as a basis for her questions. Not only that but Pat was a master interviewer. Smooth, no awkward pausing, follow up comments, excellent questions.

It was like the half hour ended in a minute. At the end of it, I tried to remember everything I’d said. Because, you know I over-analyze. But as my mind went over my responses I had something happen that rarely happens to me.

I felt good about the interview.

Maybe it was running on pure adrenaline, perhaps it was my desire to lead my work into the consciousness of a larger market (finally), or a combination of both but I felt like I got all the points across and not in my usual Boston speed-speak.

It just felt, right.

When Pat sent me the link, not gonna lie, I waited a few days before I had the courage to listen. Matt said he wanted to check it out. Family had encouraged me beforehand. I knew they wanted to hear it too.

Still, I considered not sharing it at all.

But then I thought back to five years ago. Five years ago I was in the midst of putting finishing touches on Reckless Abandon. Five years ago I’d already self-published my first title and was getting ready to release my second.

I didn’t let my inner critic stop me that time.

So I wouldn’t let it stop me this time either.

I clicked on that link and, as I listened to myself, the same feeling I had after recording washed over me. It wasn’t rambling. It wasn’t incoherent. I actually sounded okay.

Again, though, questions arise. Did doing this podcast cure me of the fear of my recorded voice? No. Did it cure me of nerves? Hell no. But will I do something like this again?

Hells to the yes.

Just like those first two books I wrote so many years ago, this interview isn’t perfect but that doesn’t matter. It was fun, challenging, and super cool I got to talk about my work so a bunch of total strangers might discover a book they just have to read.

Liberating and scary all rolled into one 33:07 segment.

So, it’s true I’m not helping to free slaves, taking a stand against discrimination, setting new standards for females embracing their own sexuality, but to me, advancing my career in this way still feels pretty bad-ass.

If you’d like to listen, turn on your speakers and click:


• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The 20 Words I Hate Related to Internet Sales

Marketing. Ugh. Am I the only one? I can’t be. I mean, if you’re a person in an online environment with a product or service to sell then you pretty much have to eat, sleep, and breath internet marketing these days. Right?

Well yippie-freaking-skippy.

It’s all just words. Shiny things strung together to entice a person into spending their hard earned dollars. And, you know I’m a person in an online world with a product to sell, but, come on.

I write books. Books that fall into pretty specific categories, genres.

Why does that matter? Because keeping someone on the line with a hook is good to get them in the boat but a minnow gets tossed back even though it was still technically considered catching a fish.

Let me put it like this, I tell people I’m an author. Every time a man asks for a business card or my information I say the following line:

“Here you go, but you should probably know you’re not my target audience.”

I’m not a person who will try to snake-oil anyone into buying something they don’t want or need because what good does that do me in the long run?

None. The answer is none.

Those people won’t be my repeat readers. They won’t promote me. They will toss that card in the trash and continue on with their lives not giving a crap that card cost me $0.09. Minnow.

But anyway, I thought I’d share some of the words and phrases related to the new age of selling that kind of make me want to hurl.

1. Strategy (Good luck getting one in a world that changes by the hour.)
2. Content (Usually of the “quality” or “fresh” variety. You mean, words?)
3. Marketing (If you can read it then it’s probably marketing.)
4. Authentic (Having to tell people you are something makes me question how true the statement really is.)
5. Tribe (No, just, no. You aren’t related, descendants. You are on the internet. You are a group or community.)
6. Sell without selling (Yeah, I’ll get right on that. See #2 & 3, right?)
7. Social networking (Essentially redundant.)
8. Quality work (See #4.)
9. Drive traffic (It’s an oxymoron and I hate it.)
10. Authority (How are you supposed to get this if you can’t tell people things without it?)
11. Monetize (This literally means to turn into money. Which literally means a website can’t perform this task.)
12. Avoid self-promotion (Screw rules. Here's some now - shameless self-promotion!)
13. Insert website here (And gasp at people who aren’t using it. Fucking hipsters. It’s already obsolete.)
14. Capture your audience (Uh, I think that’s illegal…)
15. Industry trends (You mean, like, every word/phrase written in this list?)
16. Engage (The definition of this word is: to attract. It has nothing to do with continuous back-and-forth, like people who tout their abilities in #3 want you to believe.)
17. Consistency (Density. Uniformity. Constant and unwavering adherence to a principal or action. AKA: zero flexibility.)
18. Click-bait (The marketing industry can’t make up its mind. Do you want me to click or tell people not to?)
19. Above-the-fold (This phrase has no business outside the newspaper industry. Your mouse has a scroll wheel for a reason. The internet has no fold. Except the folds of time, ever reduced every time you get onto the internet.)
20. Thoughtful posts (So subjective. Who are you to tell me if I’m being thoughtful?)

Sadly, I have to admit to using some or all of the above tactics to get my work in front of readers. 'Tis the way of the internet and the online purveyor of goods.

I would do anything for page rank.

Wait, that's still a thing, right?

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Some People have Cats…


I think I might have a teensy little problem. Apparently I’m a calendar and charts kind of girl.

Some people have cats, I have a white board. Or four. And a day planner. Plus a handmade paper chart. But that’s only because I ran out of room on the whiteboards!

Okay, I get it. That doesn’t exactly help my case against being a crazy cat, er, whiteboard, lady.

But, in my defense, they’re all crucial to my process.

A process that is quickly evolving into something bigger.

In other words, I’m gonna need a bigger whiteboard.

See, when I freaked out on that other post, it prompted a long, hard look at my current state of things. Then Matt and I sat down and talked about all things career. Mine. His. Where we’re both heading and what it will likely take to get us there.

He wants to see me succeed as much as I want to see me succeed so we talked about increasing my advertising/marketing/publicity budget. Okay, to be fair, we actually talked about me having a budget to begin with.

As someone who doesn’t pull in a big income every month, and someone who feels like I’m bleeding money every time I start setting up a new book for sale, I always feel weird about spending more.

But, this market of authors is quite saturated and I need to remember that every day I go to my job. I need to get my name out there. Especially as a sole proprietor trying to build a business in a creative industry. The truth is, we have to spend money to make money in this world.

Even an office worker doesn’t get paid to go to and from their job. Car repairs, gas, food during the day, all of that comes out of the money they make for the job they do. Money they spend to get to work to make money.

So I tore apart my old marketing plan and developed a new plan. A good plan, I think. Again, still green to all this promotional stuff but the plan I developed for the next six months or so should help to keep a buzz going.

Hey, even one Africanized bee buzzes, it might be quieter than a swarm but swat at it and see how long it takes for that swarm to arrive. Am I right?

I’m using that mentality to approach my revived interest in marketing.

But with all new projects comes brainstorming, scheduling, a great need for organization. Hence, the corner full of erasable marker.

Okay, I’m not ashamed to admit it - I love whiteboards!

Because anything and everything can easily wipe away in an instant. In fact, as soon as I’m done with a task for the month, week, day, I take my eraser and clean the task off my calendar.

Whoosh!

See ya!

I do that because I don’t like mental clutter and there’s plenty of that going on just having the boards up in the first place. I mean, you saw the picture in this post, right? When I can declutter my brain of looking at something I already finished, it frees me up to concentrate on the next task.

In any given day at work I rarely complete the same task two days in a row. True, I write almost every day but it isn’t even the same writing every day. Nor at the same time of day every day.

Thus, a room full of erasable surfaces.

So, the first whiteboard breaks down the current month by days and weeks.

The next is my advertising schedule and budget broken out into the next six months by week.

Below that is my big, blue, paper chart for tracking characters in my California Dreamin’ Series.

Next whiteboard is current book(s) in process (timeline, character development, general story notes) and a bunch of magnets I don’t know what to do with (plus the list of all sites where I need to update info on a new release and my list of beta readers).

Finally, I’ve got an eight month projection board where I list out all the stuff I need to do in a given month on books themselves (AKA: write it, send to betas, edit, etc.), giveaway schedules, free/other promotion schedules, and the rare days I will allow myself to completely disconnect from my job and take a damn vacation.

The day planner? That’s for personal stuff like actually making sure we leave the house occasionally (hockey, concerts), paying bills, seeing family, scheduling time with friends.

I’m ready. I’m organized. I’m maybe a bit over the top with my calendars and charts but, damn it, no scattered business owner ever made it very long. And after working out a realistic marketing and advertising budget for the next year, I fully intend to do everything I can to stick around as long as I can with my business.

Resolve renewed.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.