GT Book Review: A.P.E.: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur

GT Book ReviewYou’re creative, right?  And like most people these days, I bet you could use some extra cash to cushion the fall from budget grace.

If you’re a writer, you may have wondered as I did if it’s possible to become an author and earn income from your talent.  Today, that can be a real possibility if you’re willing to dive in and learn, take action and refine your strategies.

The impetus for Getting Traction is to share what I’m learning along the way about all the flexible, online strategies for creative people to earn income from…well… anywhere.

I’ve found plenty of blogs and other resources designed to help us navigate the wild new world of online income strategies and market our writing talents. Mediocre how-to books are abundant, so when you find one that’s indispensable it’s worth talking about. (check out the Toolkit section for a growing list of resources for creative entrepreneurs)

The new truth in publishing is that anyone can write and publish a book.  Translating that into a quality product that is entertaining, helpful or inspirational, then ensuring that it will sell is a whole ‘nother thing!  In order to do it right, we need to be voracious learners willing to take some risks and venture into uncharted territories.

I have two new favorite books that are more reference books than light reading, although both are written in a comfortable guide style that is enjoyable. They have become invaluable in helping me chart a course as a writer/author so that I know what questions to ask and where to find reliable answers.

My first is APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki.  You may recognize the name from Apple history, or perhaps from some of his great T.E.D. talks.  If not, it would be worth listening in on some of those, just to see if his style and insights work for you.  He’s written some other valuable books on startups and one of my favorites, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions.  Granted, he has a big advantage over new authors, with a million twitter followers and such.  Still the content is worth the price of the book and focusing some attention on the steps he outlines.

A.P.E. is a guide book to help you avoid the mistakes that will be inevitable if you attempt to traverse the e-publishing Himalayas without a guide. This is a fast changing terrain, and one of the advantages of e-books is that they are easily updated as conditions and the industry change.

And change they will…faster than many of us can adapt on our own.  Just imagine…before 2007 most of us had never heard of Facebook!  That’s less than 7 years that have changed the internet and our society forever.

A.P.E. covers everything, from deciding if you really should write a book, to how to finance, upload, price and market your book.  The publishing world is changing and writers have a new kind of freedom in this more democratic atmosphere to determine their own path without the gatekeepers of the past.

Baby Boomers to Millennials…we’re embracing entrepreneurship at rates never seen before.  Opportunities are out there, we can market to anywhere in the world and the internet has leveraged our reach to help us find our niche market.

Still…unless you have loads of money to pay a trusted partner to do it all, you need a guide to ensure you know the questions to ask, as well as when to find a consultant to help, and this is a great place to start!

I’d love to hear your comments about this or other books that help writers become authors and entrepreneurs.

Next review up:  Write. Publish. Repeat. (The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success) by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.

For more on Creative Business and Entrepreneurship at Getting Traction:

Blog Favorites: Gone with the Wynns

Creative Business

 

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How To Be Creative In Spite of the Detours – Part 1 – 7 Tips

How to be creative

Did I mention ‘taking a nap”?

 

Needing some off-road survival tips to get you one track?

Read on…

Plans get postponed or land in your lap like a pile of trash. 

Potholes send you off road without 4-wheel drive.

That’s what often passes for my highway to success.  I find myself there on a regular basis!

How about you?

I want to write and create content, articles and books that entertain, inform and you to commit to the life they want and have the tools to do it.  I want to be a better photographer and create more interesting images for my blog posts.  I want to spend every day being the ME I’ve postponed for 60 years.

How to be creative, even when it seems the world and your own fears and deficiencies conspire against you, is my question these days.  This is the topic I woke up with and can’t avoid writing about.  Just getting the words on the page is having a beneficial effect already (Tip #1 perhaps?), so let’s dive in with some suggestions.

Getting creative in spite of it all:

      • Tip #1 – “Morning Pages” – early morning peace, blank paper, cup of coffee, cozy sweater and ‘fur’ lined slippers, great pen – now write!  Write about all the crap that keeps landing in your path, write about the people that really bug you and disrupt your days (suggestion – be sure you have a secure hiding place for that notebook!), vent, rant and generally make a mess of at least 3 pages!  Phew…that’s better!
      • Tip #2 – WALK – there’s nothing like a good, solitary walk.  Deep breathing, birds in the trees or glistening city sidewalks (or maybe the trash along the sidewalk gives you a different sort of inspiration) or just the opportunity for your eyes to focus on something other than a computer screen.  Walking has been proven to do all sorts of great things for your body and brain, inspiring creativity via the simplicity of oxygen, happy hormones like serotonin that lead to that niggling craving for some paper to write down the ideas that pop into your head.  Bring along a moleskin in your pocket or perhaps a digital recorder.  No phones though…I find they disrupt my energy flow as I keep thinking of all the people I SHOULD be calling…not on my walk, mister. Best of all, you get away from the dishes, laundry or pile of paperwork that keep calling to you.
      • Tip #4 – Cry – No, don’t watch the news. I mean cry in a way that connects you with the human race and moves you to be a better, more inspiring writer or artist.  If it touches you, then that often inspires you to create something that touches others. Create your go-to bookshelf, video playlist or memory/photo album handy for this one.
      • Tip #5 – Connect – I sometimes force myself to sit in my desk chair until I complete a planned project.  My bum starts aching. Until I realize talking with someone I love, respect or just enjoy talking to is what I need.  Why do you think Starbucks is so popular for the work-from-home-set? Just the buzz of other people talking can be enough…sometimes. But if you have a solitary creative process, setting a goal to meet someone for lunch or coffee at least 2 times a week can be the change that does you the most good.  What’s your favorite connecting spot? Gym, meetup groups, adult classes, community events? Find one because you’ll never get everything done, if that’s what you’re waiting for.
      • Tip #6 – Disconnect – Some days I need to go someplace where nobody knows my name, phone number or email address.  Like a patio restaurant, favorite beach, park bench or maybe that dark, artsy coffee bar in a different part of town.  Unfamiliar surroundings, eavesdropping on conversations, even reading a free magazine you find along the way can jump start an idea I’d totally forgotten. Ideas bombard me every minute.  The trick is to pick one and take action.  New surroundings can be the inspiration you need.  Bonus idea:  If you never take the bus, take the bus alone.  Try something new, all by yourself.
      • Tip #7 – Kids, dogs & cats, oh my! – Don’t have any handy? Borrow one.  There is nothing like the spontaneous energy, virgin enthusiasm and unspoiled wonder of children and animals.  Every day is an adventure. How dare we be bored, whiny, unproductive adults?  Shame on us.  Got more time? Visit a zoo or nature preserve or volunteer someplace where you can get your ‘fix’ on a regular basis.  Extra bonus: If you work it right, you can get the” laugh, cry, connect” tips all in this tip right here!

Some of these seem contradictory.  That’s how life is.  That’s also how people are. We need different solutions on any given day.  That’s why you’re so fascinating, too.

And that’s why we want 7 tips instead of just 1!

That’s it for now. More ideas are popping into my head, but I’m curious to hear what you peeps out there do to jump start your creativity when life gives you lemons or leftovers.

For more posts on Creativity on Getting Traction:

Food Mashups!  My Creativity Take-aways

 

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Ready to ‘Be All In’? 5 Action Steps to Get You Started

Involvement or commitment?What does ‘be all in’ mean to you?

In the dictionary “all in” refers to being drained, exhausted or done in for the day.

Not quite right!

In poker, it has a slightly different meaning…done for the night, or all your chips in on the last hand?

Closer?

I didn’t find a meaning that fit my idea until I came across a financial investor site.

Aha…

Definition from Investorwords.com:

“The process of putting everything or all of a specific item into something. Items that can literally or figuratively be put all in to something include time, money, energy, or other resources.”

This is what I’m talking about!

This is what I’m learning to do with my creativity, too.

My life as a creative person involved seeing my talents as hobbies for fun or gifting, or a skill to be used for other business needs. Writing, designing, researching can be incorporated into many aspects of business and that’s what I did for decades, while I wrote poetry that no one ever saw. Crafts… well, they made great decor and gift items.

About 15 years ago I began sharing my writing with a writing group I joined, then with my partner and finally in the last few years with family and friends.

Still…it was something I was good at, but couldn’t conceive I was good enough that people would actually BUY it.

It was only recently that I began to develop the confidence that I could create a business that would market these talents, instead of some other product.

When we perceive a talent or skill as a hobby (i.e. not valued by society as a source of income) we tend to relegate it to spare time rather than prime time.

We tend to put it at the bottom of the priority list. Not dedicate time to producing or developing our craft. Or we avoid it altogether by watching other people live their dreams on TV.

What stops us from committing our time, energy and money to focus on what we love? Perhaps even creating a lucrative career from them?

I don’t believe it’s really all the excuses we’ve come up with over the years. I believe it’s based on our FEARS.

FEAR of:

Not being good enough to…

Being ridiculed or ostracized by …

Failing at …

Wasting our time on…

Living on the streets like the poor artists/writers we’ve heard about!

The list goes on and yours is unique to you, but we all have one.

In order to ‘be all in’, we need to start by liberating ourselves from these limiting fears, then delving into what really gives us pleasure. We’ll explore the rest of the process soon, but first let’s deal with those hidden fears.

Action Steps:

  • 1. Write down 5 or more consequences you are afraid of if you focus on your creative talents.
  • 2. Examine each of them. Are they based on your experience, others’ experience or things you’ve learned from family, friends or society? Or perhaps they’re simply based on your own lack of confidence.
  • 3. Write down at least one strategy to help you overcome each fear. e.g. read a book or watch a movie that inspires you; research people who write, create music or art; take a class to help you develop your talents and asses your potential, etc.
  • 4. Set aside a segment of time each day/week to enjoy your talents without guilt and begin to create a plan for building on your talents and monetizing them. Turn off the TV, get up early or reserve part of your weekend for your own personal ‘artist’s day’.
  • 5. Find a mentor. It could be a fellow artist/writer/musician, a friend you trust, a teacher or family member. Confide your dream and ask for support and honest feedback. If you like social media, look for groups with similar interests. Google+ is a good place to start. If you like meeting in person, look for meetup.com groups in your area.

For some of us, this last step may be the hardest and you might not find the right person on the first try.

It’s an ongoing process, but the first step is to begin.

If you already have a mentor or artist tribe, it may seem like a no-brainer. Perhaps you are the ones who can reach out and support the budding artists in your community.

I didn’t find my writer tribe until I was in my 50’s…but that was mostly because I never had the courage to ask. Don’t be that person. There are so many people, both young and old, with dreams of a life focused on what they love to do. People like you, perhaps, who also need a mentor.

For fun, watch Eat that Frog to inspire you to get started.

Then, take a big gulp and join us, subscribe or comment to let us know your thoughts.

Next Post: Finding your passion, pleasure & peace

 

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Too Late for 2014 Resolutions??

Creative Business PlanJanuary 15, 2014

I admit it…

I’ve been lurking, reading and critiquing all the articles about New Year’s resolutions.

Maybe not ALL, but lots.

Some are so upbeat that the cynic in me wonders how many times they re-used the same tired list or live in some delusional world where good stuff just happens.

Others…well, they’re already quoting the stats about how 92% of resolutions fail, or most are forgotten after 2 weeks.

Hhhhhmmm…just about NOW!  Have you forgotten what you wrote or even where you put that list from New Year’s Day?? Or did you even write anything down?

Do you want the probability estimates for attaining your life goals when you don’t write them down?

One word:  DISMAL!

My list usually starts in one of my many spiral ‘idea’ notebooks (‘which one?’, I ask myself a week later) or in my mobile moleskin (one in every bag, on the nightstand table, on my desk…) or in my head, the worst of the options since it is a vast forest of ideas, plans and dreams I have yet to tame.

Many years I just reused the same list, if I could find it.  Evidence of little progress made, or sometimes reverse progress.  Awww snap!

This year, as usual, new strategy.  This one might work.  Maybe.

No maybe’s!  Let’s resolve that we will make progress!

As creative entrepreneurs, we need to find inspiration enhanced by good business strategies.  Our left and right brain need to work together to turn our passions into profits.  This is the challenge and my mission is to reveal pathways to help us achieve our goals.

Resolutions help us start fresh, invigorating our ideas and goals with new passion.  They also need a backup plan to keep them activated!

My resolutions involve accountability to my blog readers, my team and myself.  Weekly check-ins to ensure someone might be holding me to my commitments.  This will also require some introspection and planning.

Plus, they involve mobile tools.  Evernote (read my post about online organizing tools HERE) so that the notes, revisions, goals don’t get lost on paper, on my desk or in my tote.  I can also edit them anywhere…yay!

And all this must be backed up by systems to keep me on track, focused and productive without stress or drama.

I have big plans for this year!  What about you?  Whether you’re following your gut, your feng shui consultant or your team’s plan for your future, let’s start by making the commitment to be all in with it.

There’s more we’ll discover and reveal along the way…for now…

Step ONE:  Be all in!

Meet you here tomorrow.  We are going to change our lives!

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How to Master Multi-tasking for Creative Entrepreneurs

When I first became a working mother, then later a mom-preneur workingbaby and working mom from home, I discovered the need for multitasking… BIG TIME!  Today, it seems to be a necessity. However, there are those who are telling us our brains just don’t work that way.

So how is it possible that everyone all around us is doing IT?

I’ve noticed as I get older, the multitasking genius is fading and it’s often more difficult to track two similar activities, like talking on the phone and scanning a web article. My brain goes into rebellion. Other factors seem to affect my abilities too. i.e. some days are better than others. Do you know what I mean?

So, I decided to do a little research on the art of multitasking.  Here’s what I found:

  • Our brains can’t multi-task (sorry, but it seems to be true!)
  • It’s more stressful when we try to make it multi-task (most of us have experienced this!)
  • Multi-tasking is really switching the brain’s attention from one task or awareness to another. (‘Command center, pay attention to THIS now!’)
  • As we age, get too caffeinated, fatigued or stressed our brains ability to switch focus effectively can deteriorate.
  • We can train our brains to be more effective at switching focus by practicing!

I find the creative tasks are the ones that demand my full attention. If I’m sitting here thinking about why my phone is beeping softly, whether my laundry is dry, and how much time I’ll need to make the soup I promised everyone for dinner… well, things just won’t gel like I want, which will result in a lot more time to get it right.

Multi-tasking…bah humbug!

Here’s the quandary:

How can something that is functionally impossible, seemingly destructive and potentially non-productive be so darn essential for success in the 21st century?? (That’s a lot of adverbs in one sentence, but I think you can see the necessity!)

So, here’s my Mastering Multi-tasking for the Creative/Mobile Entrepreneur Checklist, in spite of it all:

  • Remember that you are not thinking 2+ things at the same time; you are simply switching back and forth, so practice becoming quicker at it by using your brainpower without getting stressed
  • Develop your list of habitual skills with practice. Make a list if that helps. The more time you spend practicing an activity, the less focus it takes for your brain, then the easier (and less stressful!) it is to switch focus while continuing your habitual activity.
  • Try multitasking between habitual activities and brain-intense activities (like washing dishes + talking on the phone, or walking + listening to an audio seminar)
  • When something is really important or demanding of your full creative talents, remove distractions, set a timer and give it 100% focus for the allotted time.
  • Get up and move every 1-2 hours! Make a couple of quick phone calls while walking around the block. Today, I started the dishwasher, laundry and cooking the soup at 10 a.m… Once set up they don’t require my attention, but technically I am the ultimate multitasker. When I take my mini-break, I give myself 10-15 minutes to put the laundry in the dryer, empty the dishwasher and stir the soup (on timer so I don’t need to worry until it beeps). Then back to work, fully focused and refreshed.
  • Find tools that work for you to make you more effective. I always liked lists because once I make the list I don’t have to keep trying to remember what else I need to do. Very distracting! I also love Evernote to keep all my research results handy at the click of a button. This one tool has saved me incredible time, stress and paper piles.
  • Take a brain break! You know, stand up, stretch, deep breathe and don’t try to do anything for 5 minutes except just BE in the moment.
  • Even better, take a ‘screen break’. Study, read, think, talk with real people… anything without a screen, touchpad or earpiece. Shop even…woohoo…in a real store, I mean. This one we’re talking one hour+.
  • Reward yourself when an important task is complete… is that a power nap, a coffee with a friend or just curling up with your favorite magazine with a cup of tea? Your brain will love you and perform better for it.

Below you’ll find a few articles I came across while researching this article. I’d also love to hear how you handle multiple task challenges, so please share your ideas.

Make it a focused, productive, low stress day by going out there and employing your creative talents, one at a time.

Further research suggestions:

How Multitasking Hurts Your Brain (and Your Effectiveness at Work) 

Secrets of Multitasking: Slow Down to Speed Up 

How to Multitask Without Losing Your Mind

Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again

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