From Blog to Book: Turn Your Knowledge into Profit

I recently unsubscribed from a book publisher’s blog because I wasn’t getting much from it. So I took a chance and subscribed to Joel Friedlander’s blog, The Book Designer, and haven’t regretted it. Joel is an experienced book designer, writer, and publisher, and I highly recommend you check out his blog.

In his most recent blog, Joel offers his new book, Book Construction Blueprint, for FREE. That’s right – all 225 pages – for FREE. But that’s not the point I want to make. Something in his blog got me thinking about all the writing I’ve done over the years: alt med newsletters, articles, and a nutrition book, plus two other non-fictions sitting in my computer at the moment. He wrote that his latest book is really of compilation of all the free blogs he’s written for so many years. He wrote that this is actually his second book based on his blogging that he calls ‘booking my blog’ (I like this phrase). Joel writes on his recent blog:

This is a good example of “repurposing” material that was originally free when it appeared on the blog into a financial asset that will produce income for years to come.

If you’re a blogger with specialized knowledge, and you write in logical categories, you should be able to do the same.

It got me thinking: what if I took all that information I’ve shared over the last twenty years and put it all into a book? It could be a collection of some of my best work; most of the information has remained the same, albeit a few updates. I have to spend more time working out the details but I feel renewed from this recent post.

If you have specialized knowledge, why are you not doing this? I have a friend (come to think of it, I will send him this blog immediately) who writes weekly blog articles with intelligence and a wry humor. This would be perfect for him, since he once tried to recruit me to put together a book of his blogs (it didn’t pan out at the time).  Why aren’t more people doing this? Sharing the wealth of their accumulated knowledge and specialty training? Get started now by going through your blog posts to see which ones would make it into your book. Start an outline, see where it takes you.

Talk to Text: A Writing Lesson

My mind whirls at a pace my fingers simply can’t keep up with, so getting my thoughts down on pen and paper or on the computer can be difficult at times. Then an idea came to me: what if I tried talk to text? Speaking is one of my better skills, so why not? Nowadays most computers and cell phones offer some version of this (Dragon, Voice Recorder apps, etc.), making it easier to get our thoughts, ideas, and writing topics more organized. Or so I believed.

As I recorded this thought string, I found myself at a loss for words, except for the ums and ahs, of course. (It doesn’t help that I was walking down a busy street, running an errand, while I did this. Not recommended.) Ironically, I don’t normally use ums, ahs, or other filler words during a recording or live radio broadcast because they’re annoying and make me sound less intelligent. I’m not at a loss for words – most of the time – but trying this talk to text, for some reason, has me stumbling and mumbling.

It’s also good practice for enunciation and how you come across in an interview, which can make or break book sales. (Note to self: do I really sound that nasal? Ugh.)

It’s a good experiment to record your book or article ideas; then you can go back and listen to the quality of your words and better understand your thought process. We speak and write differently and using the talk to text will help flush out the filler words as well as provide a template for the writing process that is unique to each of us. Even if you’re writing from a narrative point of view, it’s important to watch for and listen to word flow in the story.

Go ahead, give it a try. Hope you have better luck than I did!

 

 

Bad Choices = Good Stories

This week’s blog was inspired by a t-shirt worn by a man who strolled by me the other day. It read: Bad Choices Make Good Stories. I laughed to myself as I fondly remembered some instances where that was most certainly true in my life. Like the time I “hijacked” a limo with a friend…that one always gets a good laugh and a “I can’t believe you weren’t arrested!” response. We were young (and very drunk) and, many of you would agree, almost obligated to make bad decisions at that age (the ripe ol’ age of 23). Or the time the police paddy wagon showed up at our overly-raucous beach house party, headlights beaming on the idiot standing in the driveway with a bottle of Stoli’s in her hand (yep, that was me; and no, I wasn’t arrested that time, either, cuz I ran like a jackrabbit).

Artists paint/draw from painful experiences, as do poets and writers in general. We draw upon those bad choices and negative experiences that life throws our way. In other words, as writers/artists, when we’re given lemons, we make lemonade. The badder the choice, it seems, the saucier the story (probably why I made so many; keeps the stories interesting). Those bad choices add color to our lives, not to mention bragging rights with the grandkids and anyone else who’ll listen.

My point is this: don’t be afraid to make bad choices. They make life more interesting, create the tall tales of adventure and hi-jinks, and carry us into old age with a certain wisdom and appreciation – which can only be gained by making those bad choices – preferably in our youth. (Although I admit I still like a little naughty in my life. At my age, it keeps the blood circulating!)

Learn From Your Book Reviews

Hi all, I’ve been out of touch the past couple weeks – no excuse, really, just no desire to sit and write another blog on writing. I mean, how many topics can there actually be? Yet here I am, with another blog…

So I’m going to cheat a little and let Sandra Beckwith, owner of Build Book Buzz, share some neat tidbits on how we can all learn from negative or not-all-that-nice reviews of our work. I’ve been lucky so far; all my reviews are 5-star – then again, I only have THREE of them for my fiction novel. I’ve asked people to say something nice when they finish reading the book, but they do seem to forget or get distracted elsewhere. 

I’ve never written a negative review; if I can’t say something constructive, why bother? Then again, perhaps some positive critiquing is necessary from time to time, as we often can’t see the weak spots in our work as easily as the reader. So don’t take it personally. Use it to your advantage, as an opportunity learn where you may have missed something – with characters, dialog, or scenes/chapters – and go back to the original work with fresh eyes.

Why Authors Shouldn’t Obsess Over One-Star Reviews

Authors, prepare yourself for the inevitable one-star review. In the publishing industry, one-star reviews are practically a rite of passage.

And no one is immune. Whether you’ve got 10 best-sellers to your credit or it’s your first book, you can expect at least a single one-star review.

There are the one-star Amazon reviews that make you roll your eyes.

“If possible, I’d give this pile of garbage zero stars.”

“Not really of much use for me. Seems like just a lot of useless information to fill up a book.”

“The best part of this book is the cover photo.”

https://buildbookbuzz.com/one-star-reviews/

Writers: Do You Podcast?

Are you a writer? Do you podcast? Have you been considering doing a podcast? Have you considered doing a podcast on your writing? I could go on with these questions. For some time now, I’ve been considering doing a podcast. But every time I look into it, I become overwhelmed by all the technical aspects (due to the fact that I’m NOT the least bit tech-savvy). The whole process of putting together (producing) a podcast, uploading the podcast to a hosting site, making it available to Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), learning Audacity or Garageband (Macs only)…gives me the willies. I’ve been told more than once I should be speaking to audiences and I admit I feel very comfortable talking into a mic (I’ve recorded before). But the thought of me having to do ALL of it without a producer or at least a friend with some broadcasting know-how seems a hurdle too huge to jump at the moment. But the urge grows within me.

Currently, an average of 1 BILLION (that’s right) people listen to podcasts, and roughly 47% of Americans listen to radio, according to Edison Research and Triton Digital statistics. Think about it; we have the whole world at our disposal if we can find the right stories to tell, find the right niche to fill. That’s the tricky part, I imagine. With millions already podcasting out there (and the numbers grow each year), how to not be the veritable needle in the haystack with your message? I suppose it all goes back to the same process we go through with our writing and the marketing of our books/work.

So I Googled podcasting sites and a here’s a short list of some good ones: Podbean, Libsyn (I personally like this one), Buzzsprout (like this one, too), Podomatic, Sound Cloud, Conclusion, and Archive.Org. Podbean wants $200 per month to let you monetize your podcast (in other words, ask for a ‘donation’ so you can afford to keep producing shows); that seems a bit steep for my taste so I’m looking elsewhere for an affordable option.

Buzzsprout has a page, How to Make a Podcast, where they literally walk you through every step of putting together a podcast and it’s jam-packed with good information. For writers unsure of which topics to cover in their podcasts, here are two of several suggestions from the same page:

  • Repurpose Your Blog Content Are you a blogger? Finding a great podcast ideas is as close as your blog. Take your readers’ favorite posts, add extra content, and *presto* it’s a podcast. Bonus: you’ve already tested this content and know it matches your demographic’s interests.

  • Recreate Popular Content With Your Spin Even if you don’t have a blog, you can use a similar strategy. What is your target audience reading and listening to? Improve it! See lots of complaints on popular posts? Create a podcast that provides the missing pieces.

This is the year I think I will make the leap from writing blogs on writing (and other topics) to recording podcasts discussing a variety of topics (social, environmental, and economic issues) that will hopefully cause folks to think more critically. I miss dialectic and want to create a podcast where I invite intelligent discussion, discourse, and argument. And in the process, perhaps, create a small revolution (change) in the way we perceive this world and our places in it. 

Remember:

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius. And it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”

Unknown

Writing From the Heart

In recent posts I have alluded to a big change in my life coming this week. The time is nigh and I find myself in a quandary, which is why I’m late with my weekly post. Because I’m about to go through something that will (once again) turn my life upside-down for a bit (which could be good or bad, I just don’t know yet), I decided to share an excerpt of my personal memoir, written many years ago. It was written on the heels of both the 9/11 tragedy (I was working in NYC before, during, and after this life-altering day) and my mother’s death from cancer. The experience nearly wrenched my heart from me (emotionally and spiritually, anyway) and I find myself, once again, in a similar situation. The book, as it turns out, was a cathartic exercise for me, thus my title for this week’s post.

I would never accuse any writer of not writing from the heart; but I think the writing is different when the heart hurts in some way. Perhaps the catharsis of writing it down on paper helps. I’ve struggled with my writing this week (actually I’ve avoided it altogether). The words seem stuck in a nether world and I’m unable to retrieve them, as the pain is blocking my “juice,” which I wrote about in my last post.

Here it is then:

“As I move through writing about a difficult phase in my life, I spend a good amount of time thinking about universal energies. What lesson was I not learning that the universe brought me to the brink and forced me to look over the edge? I read a column in a local newspaper discussing this very subject. It seemed fitting because I’ve had a bit of writer’s block off and on lately. I believe there is no such thing as a coincidence. The universe has its own way of letting us in on the lesson/s to be learned in its own good time. One lesson I have learned: part of the reason I ended up losing so much was that the universal energies were telling me it was time to go, time to let go, and to rebuild, and move on, even though I felt I wasn’t ready. The universe, however, knew better. Fear keeps us in stagnant lives and relationships and we’re unwilling to move along even though we’ve done all we could with them. One way or another, the universe manages to bring us face to face with our issues and we are forced to work with them, whether we want to or not. If we put off dealing with our demons, they will only rear their ugly heads again in another situation farther down the road, in one possibly far worse than that which had been avoided out of fear of confrontation.  As it said in the column, “same lesson, different package.” I make a conscious effort to remember that I wasn’t being punished – though I certainly felt that way many times. Instead, I was freed from a life that was not working, not fulfilling my destiny, whatever that may be. It became time to explore the unknown, to step outside the box as it were, and to seek out new adventures and challenges.”

I really needed to read this again and I hope it helps you as well. 

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.”

– the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

 

Free Publicity: Exposure and Perhaps More

In early August, I wrote a blog on getting exposure for your work via trade journals. In continuing with this theme, Sandra Beckwith of Build Book Buzz recently followed her first blog on this subject with a second and just as informative blog on getting trade journal publicity. I admit, since my last post on this topic, I have not increased my trade journal exposure. But it’s probably due to the fact that I was a crime victim and have been focused on protecting my identity and life (update: so far, so good, but I still want my Curacao pen back).

Sandra is quick to point out that publicity is NOT advertising (duh), because you can’t buy it or control it. But it is free exposure (currently in my price range) and you do sort of have to throw caution to the wind and cross your fingers at the same time. She offers six great tips (plus two bonus tips for getting and responding to interview requests):

publicity2

1) Review several journals and issues of those journals to find out what kind of content they use. Look for a ‘news brief’ section where book announcements can be added, or whether they utilize guest columnists. Do they review books? Maybe they’ll add yours to the list.

2) Check out the editorial calendar – you can find it online or request it from the editor. That way you’ll know what goes in the publication and when it goes out to the public.

3) Make a list of how you can contribute to the publication’s content. Personally, I’m not much of a list-maker so this one won’t get me far. I’ll know whether or not I want to write for a publication once I review its contents.

4) Find out who the contact person is for a specific topic/department (if applicable). Last thing you want to do is send an article to a person who doesn’t handle the section/topic you write about. Check the masthead (also called the impressum) for the necessary information.

5) Map out your strategy – this includes a press release or an offer to send a review copy (again, make sure you have the right contact person). In her article, Sandra offers a link for writing a press release.

6) And finally – send your pitch (okay, this is the one I need). If you’re pitching an article or guest column, make sure you know what they want (subjects) and what they use. Again, a cool link on how to email a press release to a journalist/editor.

Bear in mind that there is no guarantee from this endeavor; however, I’m willing to roll the dice and see how it plays out. I got lucky with one trade journal and perhaps I will again. Sometimes you just need to be patient and build momentum.

Writing as One Profit Center

I was in the mood to read a book today so I snagged a book I’ve been working my way through from the bookshelf. I’ve mentioned this book before – Making a Living Without a Job by Barbara J. Winters. I’m in a bit of a pickle at the moment (I won’t bore you with the details but suffice it to say that my life will be turned upside down as of end of this month, which could turn good or bad). I’ve been racking my brain on how to create more of what Barbara calls Multiple Profit Centers or MPCs. It’s her theory that by creating MPCs, you increase your potential for prosperity and a more balanced life. Each profit center/idea/ job/entrepreneurial adventure has its own rhythm; over time, you create a steady stream of income because while one or two MPCs may experience a lull in business, one or two other of your MPCs will be on the upswing and generate income.

She even mentions getting paid to write articles. Personally, I’ve not had much luck in this area (the getting paid part). In a previous blog, I wrote about getting exposure for your work via trade journals. In my experience, this type of exposure doesn’t pay (if it does, please let me know how – and now!). But I would enjoy writing articles for other publications; problem is, I’m not sure how to go about doing that (query advice anyone?). If any of you have had some success in this area, please share your experience and expertise so that we who have not yet tasted that kind of success can take a step closer.

Something else in her book got me thinking – and it made perfect sense. This is from her chapter on creating MPCs and is a quote from author and former London Business School professor Charles Handy (she quotes him in her newsletters), who advocates developing MPCs:

“Think of it this way, ” he advises. “You will have a portfolio of work like an architect has, or like your stock portfolio, no prudent investor puts all his savings into one stock, and no sensible business goes after only one customer. Yet that’s what you’ve been doing with your work and talent all these years….Now is your chance to go ‘portfolio’: to diversify your interests and do some things for money, some because they interest you, some out of love or kindness, and some for the sheer hell of it. And, moreover, it’s your chance to flex your portfolio to leave you time for all those other things – for travel, for discovery, for golf, for dining.”

Wow. That brought me back to one of my early blogs, Be Careful What You Wish For. I just realized I have already created MPCs, except that they don’t yet pay the rent. I guess I need to come up with a few more MPCs to cover the downswing of the current ones. It’s just that I feel lost amid the millions of voices already out there clambering for everyone’s business. All I can come up with at the moment is that I (and you, too) need to find a way to STAND OUT by doing something DIFFERENT with my (and your) skill set. Only then can my writing become a Multiple Profit Center that truly pays (emotionally and financially) – and supports my no-more-nine-to-five lifestyle.

What’s your MPC? 

Losing Your Mind on Social Media?

This morning I came across an interesting article in one of my LinkedIn Groups, Book Marketing (amidst so many others that are not – at least to me). The author, Kirsten Oliphant, writes about the overwhelm many of us experience these days with Social Media (SM) and how to choose which ones will work best for each of us. As I read the article, knots formed in my stomach. I admit I’m not tech-savvy in the world of SM and just reading about it gives me the willies. She makes a good point, though, at the beginning, about struggling with mastering SM and balancing the marketing we do there with finding time to write.

She provides three options: 1) Hire out (don’t know about you but I certainly can’t afford this option), 2) gripe and procrastinate (welcome to my world), and 3) master and manage (oh, here come the willies again). While she makes valid arguments for all three, I’m focused on the third, master and manage. If only I could learn, understand, and utilize at least a couple of SM to my advantage as a writer.

Good news: Kirsten provides a free resource guide describing many platforms in detail, so that even I, the un-savvy, can understand and utilize SM. She also provides sensible advice: choose one or two platforms you’re comfortable with and start with those. And maybe use only those, as she does advocate not going hog crazy and trying to be everywhere and everything on SM. This makes sense to me, as it allows for time to write (and work a full-time job since writing has not yet completely replaced the J-O-B lifestyle).

Still, I’ve not heard of some of the SM sites she mentions and I’m likely to stay with what’s familiar (Facebook, etc.). I’m toying with opening a Twitter account; have any of you found it to be useful for your published works? I’m just not a big fan of being “followed” by anyone, and evidently I have to follow others first for that to happen. And by nature I tend not to follow others – rather, I prefer to take my own, less-traveled road, so I don’t know if Twitter is right for me. Which means I need to read her booklet in more detail, because who knows what I may discover. Perhaps I’ll find a SM site that doesn’t overwhelm or confuse me; perhaps I’ll discover an inroad to a new marketing adventure. Regardless, I know I’ll learn something that can help me to the next step in the process, all the while not losing my mind over the there-are-too-many-options-to-choose-from menu of Social Media.

You can check out the full article here.

A Writer At a Loss for Words?

I haven’t written anything this past week – I’ve been at a loss for words. I got sidetracked by a personal incident. Early last week, my car was vandalized while on my morning hike. Evidently I had not hidden my bag (containing wallet, phone, etc.) behind the grocery bags as well as I’d thought; thieves threw a large rock through my car window and took my life. I’ve spent the last seven days trying to protect my identity from further damage. Only time will tell if I’m to be lucky.

When I had to fill out the Missing Property Report for police, I realized how little attention I’ve paid to the “little things” in my life – like what exactly was in that bag. It struck me that I (and probably many of you) go about each day in a certain state of blissful ignorance about some of the little details in life. Details deemed unimportant until they need to be recorded on a Missing Property Report and given a value that isn’t sentimental, like the worn leather key ring embossed with a silver Indian headdress  – bought at a small craft fair while on a motorcycle ride with a good friend, about twenty years ago. Gone. Or the pen I’d purchased on a trip to Curacao, covered in red leather and carved with a picture of their famous swinging bridge. Gone. Or the new spring green note pad for taking notes while on the road so I’d remember to do whatever needed doing when I got home. Gone.

I want my key ring back. And I really miss that pen. And damned if I can remember what I wrote in that notepad, to remember to do when I got home.

Turns out cell phone technology has its drawbacks, too. WhatsApp doesn’t transfer your contacts to a new number. So all of my international friends who did not supply me with their emails? Gone. And my contacts list of phone numbers? That’s gone, too, (or so I thought) because I had to change the number but luckily found a backup of contacts in my Lookout app – which doesn’t transfer contacts to a new number. I had to add them each manually. All two hundred of them. Notepad? All my mileage and book promo expenses from the last four months were on there and that doesn’t transfer either. Like the Six Million Dollar Man, I, too, will have to re-build (and if I could run like the Six Million Dollar Man, I would’ve caught the buggers as they sped away from the scene).

I’m actually taking this all in stride. I’m a little surprised that I have not had some sort of mental breakdown over it, though I admit I was tempted to let myself fall apart. No, I decided to forge ahead with renewed resilience, determined to find the thieves who tried to take my life from me (not that it’s much of one and I wouldn’t wish it on another person – except for maybe the idiot thieves who stole it from me, maybe they could do better with it).

So I’m thinking the lessons here are: 1) don’t bring my bag/purse with me in the car when I go on a morning hike (now I stick my new, smaller wallet in my fanny pack and take it with me), 2) live a smaller life with less tech-y toys and apps, and/or 3) let go of the past. Cherish the here and now, cherish what family and/or friends you gather around you (especially during a trying time as this), and keep cherished items OUT OF YOUR BAG/PURSE.

Hmmm….not at such a loss for words as I thought…wink emoji

Showcase Your Work: Trade Journals

I don’t know about you, but I’m overwhelmed by all the internet options for marketing books. Where to begin? Which to choose? How much to spend? On a weekly basis, I scour newly discovered sites hour after hour, page by page…then I’m back to feeling overwhelmed, because there are far too many options. I’m driving myself crazy with agida (see this  post) while trying to keep track of all the marketing options and whether or not they’ll work for me.

Then a book blog I subscribe to sent an interesting post this week on marketing our work in, of all places, trade journals. What a great idea! idea light bulb

Why didn’t I think of that before? Oh, wait…I have…at least once…which is why my work (actually, an excerpt of my nutrition book) is currently published in Qi Journal magazine. Based on the blog’s suggestions, I opened my ‘ideas notebook’ titled “The best way to get something done is to begin” and started making a list of trade publications in my field. Why didn’t I think of this before? 

 

Qi Journal Summer 2016

All too often, I get caught up with and excited by the new opportunity and forget to continue down that same road to increase my chances of success. Do any of you experience this? You know, the can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees kind of thinking? Or maybe the internet is finally frying my gray cells to the point of no return from all the TMI (too much information)…

My trade journal list is a work in progress; I have to do a bit more research but am hopeful of the success I will have, based on my good luck with Qi Journal. When their Summer issue came out, a fellow acupuncturist contacted and informed me that she loved the article/excerpt and purchased a copy of my book. It was the validation (from a professional colleague) I sought for work well done. And it has provided the confidence to submit my work to other journals in my profession.

If you don’t have a ‘profession’ to speak of, don’t be afraid to send your work to trade publications that are related to your subject matter, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. Take a chance on an area where your target market is already defined – and ripe for the picking.

 

 

 

 

Subliminal Messages and The Call of the Word

Do you notice how your writing takes on a life of its own once a project is started? Do you wonder how you got started on it to begin with? I only recently realized that happened to me. After completing the grueling self-publishing process of my nutrition book (Agida/Agita No More), I thought about writing another  book on Chinese dietary therapy, detailing how foods can heal specific Western diseases. Then I summarily dismissed it. I was exhausted mentally and felt I did not have it left in me to start another painstaking journey down the nonfiction road. 

Everywhere I went, people asked me, “How do you treat disease X, Y, Z?” when I talked about/marketed my book. I wondered if perhaps it would make sense to write a companion book, to clarify how to eat to heal Western diseases from an Eastern perspective. Once again, I quickly dismissed the idea and bristled at the thought of going through that process again. Something nagged at me – it happens to a lot of writers, I will assume – and ideas formed in my mind about how I could actually write the book that so many seem to have hinted they needed.

As I write this blog entry, I’ve already completed chapters one and two of the new nutrition book and am now working on chapter three. So much for avoiding agida. But the call from so many turned out to be a subliminal message that I finally heard (okay, so I’m a little slow on the uptake). I have found this book a bit easier to write since I’m keeping the formatting style from the first book. That means all I have to do is plug in the information, as some of the information is repeated from the first book. I love the copy/paste function! 

It was a great release to finally get the myriad rambling ideas out of my head and onto paper (though more continue to take shape since I’ve made room up there). Subliminal or not, it has occurred to me that, simply put, writers must write. Regardless of the subject, we must give in to ‘the call of the word’. 

My advice: Pay attention to the hidden messages all around you. Let them be your muse, let them inspire you to answer your ‘call of the word.’

Tips to Boost Your Blog

This is a good article so I thought I’d share it with you…have to click on the link to read the whole article, as there is no Share button.

70 quick tips that will boost your author blog


Our guest blogger today is Federica Auletta, a communications assistant at
Market Inspector, a business-to-business digital marketplace for businesses and institutions in Europe. The company makes it possible for businesses to compare quotes and offers from different suppliers. The article and helpful infographic that follows provide useful information for author bloggers with a wide range of experience. 

70 quick tips that will boost your author blog

By Federica Auletta

Any author can blog, but only a lucky few are successful at it. As a matter of fact, there are hundreds of millions of blogs available on the web, but the majority of internauts know only about a handful.

With that in mind, you might wonder how some bloggers drive tons of traffic to the blog on their website. Market Inspector has created an infographic (below) with 70 proven tips to help authors like you start or promote a successful blog on your site.

1. Search engine optimization – SEO

There are likely several key factors that influence a website’s search result rankings. No one is fully aware of how browsers classify pages, since these algorithms are kept a secret.

What is certain, though, is that some criteria have been identified: blog updates, the use of links, content relevancy, spam level, and domain authority are just some of the specifics that help optimize a page.

2. Attitude

Even behind a monitor, a personal approach always matters. The first rule for effective blogging is commitment. Perseverance and expertise are keywords when it comes to starting or managing a blog.

It’s important that the blog page is updated with unique content at least once a week. You want readers to anticipate your posts, so the only way to gain more traffic, better visibility, and returning visitors is to be a consistent blogger.

Read it all here

Success and Failure: The Yang and Yin of Writing (& Life)

I’m more than a bit of a fatalist. I start each day at my computer by checking a particular set of websites: my blog (Mestengo Books), my Fan pages (ROWT, 5 Element Nutrition), and my LinkedIn page. Before I do all that, I check my “fate” for the day at ifate – I leave it up to the Universe as to which type of fortune-telling card shows up (I-Ching, Tarot, or Runes). Today, it was an I-Ching reading that I found relevant and is my lesson for the next twenty-four hours: Hexagram 47 (this link provides a fuller explanation).

In summary, the lesson of Hexagram 47 for today is about oppression and hope – that even during difficult or bad times we must dig down deep, not fear failure (the inevitable downswing of the life/writing-cycle), quietly embrace it, and carry on with the understanding (hope) that all will be better again (the inevitable upswing of the life/writing-cycle). Does that sound like your life or your writing? It certainly does mine. 

It got me to thinking – since I’m licensed in Chinese medicine and I see the world through the lens of Yin/Yang relationships (Universal Law of Unity of Opposites) – that oppression, defined in the hexagram as “a form of troublesome worries,” is a kind of Yin/failure that sooner or later will turn into Yang/success in the cycle of life/writing. Some days the words flow, other days they don’t. Today I struggle with finding the right words for this blog while I wrestle with a work-related decision that must be made. I can’t wait for that upswing…

I’ve also been struggling with marketing my new book (due mainly to budget constraints and lack of marketing acumen) and am looking at non-mainstream options. I know it won’t be a NY Times bestseller and I’m okay with that – it’s not what I really want anyway, because it’s not where I fit. It’s been a slow climb. Recently, however, I’ve had the good fortune to be published in Qi Journal, a wonderful publication highlighting Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Chinese medicine, martial arts and Chinese culture in general. As a result, sales of my book increased. And I’ve been invited to publish with them again (and possibly ongoing). It was a chance email I’d sent to  them inquiring about writing an article for them (because I was looking for different avenues for book marketing) and ended up with the opportunity to publish a portion of my book. Talk about Yin moving into Yang!

Failure  happens to everyone. It’s how you handle the failure. Ride it out, like a big bump in the road and you’ll come out the other side wiser, and perhaps, more successful. In whatever way that means for you.

failure should be our teacher

 

 

Armchair Experts and Me

More thoughts on conscious writing:

What can I say, I’m on a roll….

I’m on LinkedIn and so are a lot of other people. A LOT. Probably explains why the few groups I joined  seem to be brimming with what I call “armchair experts” (any more than that seems a waste of time and TMI for me). Don’t misunderstand, some (perhaps many, I haven’t taken a poll) are successful with their work. But many (or perhaps some, I still haven’t taken a poll) are not – but think they should be, based on their expertise. (And why haven’t I heard of these experts?)

One of the groups  – Book Marketing – sends me a weekly digest of (too many) topics being discussed. I’m amazed (and often overwhelmed) by the varying opinions (remember, we’re all experts on our opinions) on how to market one’s work, publish to the masses, find that secret to getting the world to recognize our work, etc. Sometimes the advice seems ridiculous, sometimes it helps. Mostly you have to “read and weed” through the junk to find the proverbial needle in the haystack that will help advance your writing/work. 

One of my top pet peeves is (and has always been) people who talk like they know when they don’t. I refer to them as “armchair experts (AE).” Here in the U.S., the number of AEs appears to have grown exponentially with the advent of social media sites. Or is it my overactive imagination, mixed with a pinch of cynicism and a dash of arrogance? With so many of these AEs online, it seems they have solutions to my problems – both personal and professional. In my (expert) opinion, there is a lot of preaching about what one “should do” but how many are asking “Do you want my advice?” in the first place?  I’m reminded of a poem of sorts I have stashed away somewhere in storage, on the definition of a friend, and this is one piece from it: a true friend is someone who does not give advice without your request.

That’s called preaching.

One definition of preaching (as a verb and in secular text) is “to do this in an obtrusive or tedious way.” So i looked up obtrusive (an adjective, for context): “having or showing a disposition to obtrude, as by imposing oneself or one’s opinions on others.” (I added all the italics.) How many people start their sentences (verbal or written) with some form of “you should…”? The moment I hear that sentence, the tone in the voice, and watch the body language, I think – uh, oh, here it comes. The preach. The “I-know-just-what-you-need-though-you-didn’t-ask-me” monologue. No faster way to get me to leave the table, the room, or the website/blog. If you haven’t taken the time to ask (then truly listen), then you don’t know what I need (or want). You can’t assume I want to hear what you have to say, no matter how wise or beneficial your words may be. Let me first ask.

It’s rather like a famous diet (yes, more conscious eating metaphors) – The Paleo Diet, The Virgin Diet, The South Beach Diet, and on, and on… As with these famous “diets,” some of us will succeed in following the diet, others will not. And some will find the courage to take our own roads with our writing and learn the accompanying lessons, since it’s about the journey, not the destination, after all.

Any thoughts? (Yes, I’m asking…hee hee)