The reluctant business-woman

The reluctant business-woman

I’ve had a ‘failed’ business, one that I decided to close down because it was obvious that it wasn’t going to give me a decent living. Now I’m a full-time author, I really don’t like to think of myself as being in business, because that has bad connotations for me. So it has taken me two years to finally admit the unpalatable fact – I’m actually in business again. Not a bricks & mortar business, a writing business. The one I’ve been doing all this time but just couldn’t accept the fact that it was a business, rather than a creative calling. Many authors, like artists, are more comfortable with the idea of starving for their art and remaining ‘pure’ than about getting serious about their business. I trained in Internet Marketing and have been the tech and writer for a couple of start-up companies. I did enough of it to make me recoil from doing it for myself! It always felt manipulative and greedy. I guess I classed the opposite of greed and manipulation as poverty and struggle. I didn’t see the middle ground. Until, that is, I formatted a book for a wonderful author, Julie Ann Hart, who specializes in intuitive coaching. We chatted and I spoke about my reluctance to consider myself a business person, because of my past history. She said, “You know, you are a business-person, you’re a heart-centered business-person.” That took my breath away* and made a monumental difference to my attitude about my life and work. I am heart-centered – love the expression – but I’m not in the habit of wearing my heart on my sleeve, so no-one knows about it. Yet I love other heart-centered business people. People like Oprah Winfrey and Marie Forleo – they are highly successful, kick-ass business-women but they donate huge chunks of time and money to deserving causes and they provide extensive, free information and advice to help others. All while being super successful themselves. We don’t think of them as being greedy, just because they are successful; or manipulative, just because they use certain marketing techniques. For me, it’s the old “put your oxygen mask on first” thing. We need to look after ourselves before we can be in a position to help others. If I’m not successful enough myself, I won’t be able to help struggling authors. If I don’t start to think of my work as a business, then I won’t be as successful as I could be. Getting serious about my business means that I have decided to give up the small projects and bits and pieces that I’ve been doing. I’ve gone through my royalties and discovered which of my books and pen names are giving me the most return and I’m going to focus on building those brands and those genres. I’m not going to start spamming people and filling my books with cheesy Internet Marketing messages and affiliate links. I don’t see anything wrong with running a newsletter and building a list of people who want to subscribe to it, though. Internet Marketing doesn’t have to be manipulative – it can be transparent and immensely helpful. I’ve started following Steve Scott’s helpful book marketing advice on his blog and decided to spend more time on my friend Cathy Presland’s site. Cathy is an International economist turned book coach and a great example of the type of business-person it is possible to be: a successful authorpreneur who always has time to help people. I’m also going to use a technique I learned from Kristen Eckstein (the Ultimate Book Coach). She advises authors to ask their existing readers to be beta readers/reviewers for future books. Kristen sends her latest book out to her list of beta readers and they report back with any typos that her proof-readers and editors have missed, and write reviews that can go on Amazon when the book is launched, as well as in the book itself and on marketing copy. It’s about getting smart, not getting greedy. It’s about taking yourself seriously and being professional and forward-thinking. I’m going to give it a go.     *The city where my son lives, Liverpool, has a funny expression for this emotion. They call it feeling ‘gob-smacked’ – as if someone just slapped you in the face! Quite fitting, I think.   You may also like:Writing SoftwareWould You Like To Read A Bit Of...

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Do reviews have to be either honest OR kind?

Do reviews have to be either honest OR kind?

Where would we be without Groupon? I would have had a lot less massages and experience days! Just before Christmas I went on an afternoon canal cruise with my fiance. We had bought the coupon as a birthday present for my Dad but he developed a knee problem and couldn’t get down the tiny steps onto the canal boat – and the coupon was due to expire. We decided not to waste it. My fiance is fond of canal boats – they’re generally really long, colorful boats with cheery painted canalware on top, buckets, pots, and the like. The colorful items that appear on other canal boats! So off we trotted to the meeting point, which was a restaurant overlooking the canal. This was in the morning so the restaurant wasn’t serving food and there weren’t any staff around, which was a pity as it left us and three other couples to stand around wondering if we were in the right place. After a little while a member of staff wandered out of a back room and told us we were and they were just waiting for the boat driver. 40 minutes later we were still waiting. When the driver arrived he just called us to go with him – no apology. I don’t mind having to wait (I have the Kindle app on my cellphone!) but I do find it irritating when the people keeping me waiting don’t apologise. So I, for one, wasn’t in the best mood. But this is Britain, where people are used to queuing and being kept waiting and generally do so without complaining – just some low level grumbling when they think no-one can hear them! Our first view of the boat that we were going to be cruising on didn’t lift my spirits. It was small, about the length of a van. It looked like it had been used for moving freight in the past, with high, solid sides and very small windows above them. That was where we sat, the eight of us, around a table. The driver busied himself in the kitchen area (two cupboards and a kettle) of the boat, clanking around. He eventually explained that he was late because he wasn’t the scheduled driver (who had been held up in traffic) and had had to come a long way. He then started serving our lunch, before we set off. Fair enough, it would have been dangerous to try to drive the boat while serving hot food! Unfortunately, the only food was a meat stew – I’m vegetarian and my fiance rarely eats meat. No alternative. I was quite glad I wasn’t eating it when I saw it! Afterwards we were offered coffee or tea – without milk, as the driver forgot to pick some up! So off we went on our ‘cruise’. Due to the height of the sides of the boat, we were unable to see out while sitting down. Standing on a slow moving boat isn’t too much of a problem if you’re fully able bodied, I guess, but I’m not (my ankles were crushed in a car accident years ago), so that was annoying. There wasn’t a lot of point standing up anyway because the windows were made of some kind of see-through plastic, which held onto rain drops so it was hard to see out. So we had occasional periods of standing to try to see where we were, and long (LONG) periods of sitting looking at the passengers around the table. After a while we came to a bridge. The driver – without a word of explanation – stopped the boat near the canalside, hopped off, and threw a rope roughly in the direction of a little pillar. Then he went to the bridge to operate the controls that would swivel it to let us through. He apparently had some trouble with it as he continued to stab at the control panel for some time before picking up a telephone handset and shouting into it. We all peered through the little windows to see what he was up to. It was one of the other passengers who first noticed that we were moving, drifting gently towards the middle of the canal and the bridge that blocked our path. We weren’t in any real danger – a small bump into the bridge was about the worst it would get – but it was a bit disconcerting and one of the other ladies got panicky. Thankfully, humor helped, with people wondering out loud if anyone had ever been lost ‘at sea’ while on a Groupon experience day and others responding...

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Doesn’t a bargain make your day?!

Doesn’t a bargain make your day?!

I was having a bit of a, “Meh!”, day. The weather is odd, the Internet is patchy, my daughter is doubled up in pain (happens monthly), one of the dogs is ill, and to top it all the keys on my keyboard are sticking so I have sore fingers from bashing them! Blah, blah, blah. Then I popped onto Facebook while cooking lunch and saw a post by the talented author Joanna Penn. It was offering a coupon code for her eBooks on Kobo. Instead of $4.95, I got one for 99c. It really cheered me up! It doesn’t take much to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step does it? Here’s the coupon code for Joanna’s book: pennsale The link is: bit.ly/10eLOS7 (You can download the Kobo app for computers and smartphones free.)     You may also like:MatchBook - great news for people who like paperbacks AND Kindles!Do reviews have to be either honest OR...

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Chattering parrots – inspiration for Mimic

Chattering parrots – inspiration for Mimic

I spent a lovely couple of days with my fiance (and dog!) at a fabulous guest house in Wales last week. It is called, appropriately-enough, The Guest House, and it was a wonderful find. Great food, lovely hosts, and comfortable beds. What more can you ask? Well … parrots! There were 3 resident African Grey parrots – the same breed as Mimic in my book, ‘Mo – The Talking Dog’. I’m writing the follow-up at the moment (the trip was part work as I like to get away to write sometimes). Jenny, one of the owners of  The Guest House, was able to give me lots of stories about her parrots. They really do converse, not just repeat things. We heard them talking to each other, and Jenny told us that they request certain items of food. She offered one a grape and he said he didn’t want that, he wanted a biscuit. She insisted on the grape, not the biscuit – and he insisted on the biscuit, not the grape! I read an article this morning about a 2011 study using African Grey parrots (they seem to be the smartest). The scientists have proven that the parrots use reasoning. I think Mimic needs to feature more in the next ‘Mo’ book, he obviously has a lot of potential for character development! If anyone has any parrot stories they would be willing to share, I’d love to hear them. If you would like to get to know some parrots, I highly recommend The Guest House Abergavenny – and the food! You may also like:Einstein's Desk Was As Cluttered As Mine!Why The Last Friday Of Every Month Is Important If You Own A...

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Einstein’s Desk Was As Cluttered As Mine!

Einstein’s Desk Was As Cluttered As Mine!

I know lots of authors who have cluttered desks. They are scared to throw anything out until their current book is finished, just in case they throw out something with a few vital sentences scribbled on it.

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With A Little Help From My Friends

With A Little Help From My Friends

I’ve been battling to finish setting up my author page on Amazon. This is pretty much compulsory if you have books on Amazon, not having a presence looks a bit miserable.

They don’t give you much to work with but you are allowed to add a blog or website.

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