By k | August 31, 2011 - 6:00 am - Posted in Corporate Games

Recently, I started working
with a new editor.
She sent me a list of issues with my manuscript.
She sent no suggestions on how to fix them.

I was frustrated.
If I knew how to fix these issues,
they wouldn’t be issues in the first place.
I emailed her and explained that.
She eventually told me how to fix them
(as she knew all along how to fix them).

The editor-writer relationship
is very much like a mentor-protege relationship.
The mentor points out issues, sure,
but she should also point out
resources or methods
that the protege could use
to FIX the issues.

Telling her to figure it out
on her own
or to find another mentor (critique partner)
to explain how
defeats the whole purpose
of having a mentor.
A mentor without possible fixes
is simply a critic
and we all have enough of those.

The fixing is the difficult part.
If you’re not willing to offer that,
don’t become a mentor.

By k | August 30, 2011 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

I recently judged a writing contest.
Before we received our entries,
we were given a course on
how to mark them.
There were sections on
grammar, and story structure,
and POV transitions
and other writing craft areas.

There was nothing about
how to recognize
the remarkable.

There was one entry
that weeks later
I can’t stop thinking about.
Yes, it was remarkable.

Did it place?
No.
Because it had serious structure issues.

Another entry I judged,
a solid but not spectacular entry,
placed.
It didn’t have these issues.
It also didn’t have the other story’s magic.

And after the judging was done,
we received a summary of all the marks
from all the judges.
That way, we could determine
if we were judging ‘correctly.’

You won’t find remarkable products
in a contest.
Look for remarkable elsewhere.

By k | August 29, 2011 - 6:00 am - Posted in Corporate Games

My dear mom is in her last few months
of working
before retirement.

Her manager,
thinking she no longer
has to keep my mom happy,
is giving her all the crap jobs.

This is normal.
In the last few weeks of a contract,
I get all the crap jobs too.

The thinking is…
the employee (contract or full time)
doesn’t have any choice
but take it.
What is she going to do?
Quit?

Newsflash!
There’s always choice.

My mom has six months worth
of unused sick leave.
When she gets assigned a crap job
she wouldn’t normally do,
she takes that day off.

I, having more freedom
over my tasks,
would put the crap jobs
on my to-do list.
Surprise! Surprise!
I never got around doing them.

Managers have LESS leverage
over leaving employees.
Assign these employees crap jobs,
and there will be repercussions.

By k | August 28, 2011 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

Of course,
with all this emphasis
on peer recommendations,
the temptation to cheat
and fake reviews or comments
is high.

Don’t.

Looking at book reviews,
I can pick out the fake ones easily.
They’re too glowing,
too over-the-top.
No reader says a story is the best story they’ve ever read
and should be a bestseller
or rated higher.
Ummm…
no.
The average reader is more tentative.
“If you like werewolves, you might like this story.”
And they never like everything about a story/character.
That’s impossible.
They’ll say
“I loved the story and it ended too soon.”
“I want to hear about the brother Joe.”
Or something like that.

When I see fake reviews,
I don’t trust any of the other reviews,
AND I don’t trust the product.

If your product is good,
there’s no need to fake user/reader reviewers.
You simply ask your fan/reader base to write reviews.

If your product isn’t good…
why the fuck are you promoting it?
Fix your product,
or develop a new product,
you’ll land legitimate good reviews for.

By k | August 27, 2011 - 6:00 am - Posted in Corporate Games

Summer time is high season
for fraud detection
in companies.

Why?

According to Ernst & Young
it is because the fraudsters
are away from their jobs
on holiday.

“Perpetrators are away
and not able to cover their tracks easily.
Frauds, such as accounts manipulation
that are covered up
in the course of the year
are often spotted
when colleagues take over
and notice something is not quite right.”

And who are these fraudsters?
Is it the high school grad
in the mail room sporting the green mohawk?
Or the cleaning lady?
Or the guy who waters the plants?

Actually
“The profile of a typical fraudster
is a long serving, trusted employee,
who works long hours and
is reluctant to take their annual leave.
Without doubt,
one of the most simple and cost-effective
anti-fraud measures
is to ensure employees take
at least two consecutive weeks holiday.”

Vacation time isn’t just an employee perk.
It can also keep company resources safe.

By k | August 26, 2011 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

Some of my writing buddies
are taking a graphic design course.
They walked into the course thinking
“How hard can this be?”

It is HARD.
(especially if you want to do a great job)

Eduardo Barrios of Barrios Advertising
talks about how he approaches a project…

“First, look at the message.
What kind of flavor does it have?
Does it have a humorous touch to it?
Is it more introspective and serious?

There are those kinds of sub-levels
of concept and execution
that you can discuss with a designer.

You could even get down into
the nitty-gritty of color and typography
because each color has its own mood.

And the typography
—there’s so many different fonts out there.
A designer will help you limit your universe
because there are some classic font faces
and some font faces now
that can be used on digital format
that are easier to read.
So there are some practicalities in this also.”

Graphic design is like copywriting.
It is far easier to hire a great graphic designer/copywriter
than it is to become one.

Unless you have a genuine interest/skill,
there are more efficient ways
to save a dollar.
Hire a professional.

By k | August 25, 2011 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

I’m managing a not-for-profit writing group,
and am busy putting in new systems
and building membership.

It is going well.
Too well.

Why too well?

Because it is human nature
to want to be involved in successful projects.

Currently, I’m left the hell alone
by the board,
but I know once the board hears about my success,
they’ll either take over my group,
or they’ll micromanage the hell out of it.
So I’m in a race to put in my systems,
and set up the group
to run itself,
before the board takes the project over.

When you manage a successful project,
you always run the risk
of having your project taken over
(and not always taken over
by the most competent project managers).

If you care about the project,
design it so it can run itself.

By k | August 24, 2011 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

Recently, I held an event.
The goal was that it would be
open to all,
yet I charged a nominal fee ($5).

Why?

Because charging a nominal fee
weeds out the crazies.

It weeds out the people
who aren’t serious.

Attendees think twice
about whether or not they’ll benefit
from the event,
and when they do attend,
because they want to prove that
they made the right decision,
they’ll be looking for these benefits.

It sends a message to attendees
that this is a serious event
and they should take it seriously.

It creates the right atmosphere,
and the speaker is given more respect.

Free is NOT always the best price.
Price your event
to achieve the atmosphere
you want.

By k | August 23, 2011 - 6:00 am - Posted in Marketing

Get Satisfaction has a great infographic
(a new-to-me word)
on why people follow brands
on social media
such as Facebook and Twitter.

The number one reason?

Special Offers/Deals
(36.9% of respondents on Facebook/MySpace
and 43.5% of respondents on Twitter)

One of my pen names
(aka brands)
is growing quite a following
on a third party eBook reseller.
(a reseller with a social media aspect)
Why?
Because every month
I load a free short story
connected to one of
my longer, for pay stories.

Yes, I’m giving away freebies,
but these freebies
are increasing sales of my other stories.
The more people I have
waiting for the latest free story,
the higher my paid stories debut
on the sales rankings.

If you want prospects to follow you,
give them a ’special’
incentive to.

By k | August 22, 2011 - 6:00 am - Posted in New Business Development

I can guarantee
you did something this week
you shouldn’t have done yourself.
I know I did.

We, humans, tend to be control freaks,
especially those of us
with entrepreneurial tendencies.
We want to do EVERYTHING,
control EVERYTHING,
and it can be one of our biggest barriers
to success.

The hot topic in the writing-world today
is self publishing.
Quite a few of my buddies
are taking graphic design
on top of their writing courses and schedules
so they can design the covers they want.

Okay, first…
these authors shouldn’t be designing the covers THEY want.
They should be designing the covers READERS want.
And in order to do that,
cover artists need to know the market, trends,
and how to achieve that design.

Which leads to the second issue…
As a writer, I have a potential to earn more money
with every additional word I write.
Mastering a complicated skill like cover design
will suck writing time,
a task I can’t easily delegate to anyone else.

In contrast, successful writers
delegate as much as possible.
They have cover artists, editors,
research assistants, marketing folks.
Heck, James Patterson doesn’t even WRITE
his own books any more.

Fight the tendency to do everything yourself.
Get out of your own damn way
and delegate as much as possible!