Archives for September 2011

Business Owner Challenges

Being an author, means being a business owner. Lynn Zettler of LifeAction Coaching, Inc. shares business owner challenges:

“My biggest challenge came very quickly in learning what activities were worthwhile and which activities were not. When you are first starting out you feel like you need to do everything or you will miss an opportunity. However, very quickly you see that you could fill your whole day with networking meetings and not have any time left to actually do any paid work! One way to do that is to get very clear about defining your perfect client and mission critical activities. You have to make some choices and you need to learn to say no to a lot of things. It’s a real learning process.”

As a coach, any advice for someone wanting to start their own business?  “First, get very clear on your customers and mission critical activities. If you are a new business owner who is still wearing all of the hats, don’t be afraid to get creative with your delegation or outsourcing. Would it really cost you that much to have a virtual assistant, bookkeeper or publicist who will free up time for you to focus more on sales? Many times we focus more on the cost than on the benefit, and in reality, the benefit brings exponentially more value.”

 Link to read the rest http://goentrepreneurs.org/2011/09/lifeaction-coaching-inc/

5 Star Review

Amanda‘s review  –  Sep 20, 11

5 of 5 stars

Not very often will a book land on my desk that will grab my attention in the first chapter, but Merciful Law was one of those books!

Lawrence Davenport is a man with power, money, and the means to make things happen. So what happens when his wife suddenly disappears? What if his wife didn’t want to be found? What lengths would a man go to in order to bring his loved one back home?
Deborah Davenport has seen the light and needs to make a new life for herself. Leaving Lawrence was not a decision made lightly and becoming Annie Logan will prove to be more difficult than she ever imagined.
Emmet Navar is no stranger to danger in his life. His main priority is keeping his two boys safe and in the life they are accustomed to. Emmet hires Annie as a professional assistant to the Navar house. Neither one of them could have possibly seen where this was the beginning of a long ride of bumps and turns.
Emmet has a problem in keeping his professional exterior up when he is around Annie and soon confesses his attraction to her. Annie is worried that her husband and his many dangerous men are always just behind her shoulder and she will lead them right to the things she is starting to love.
Darby Rae is a brilliant storyteller and Merciful Law has everything to become a bestseller. This book has just enough suspense to keep you interested without knowing what is going to happen until the very last page. The wit and some of the characters were a much needed comic relief that kept the story from being too heavy. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the quick banter and sarcasm that was laced in the lines.
I would also like to bring some focus onto the setting. I’ve never read a book that was set in my own back yard. This was interesting and exciting and completely realistic.
At 455 pages long, this book has a bit more to it than your average novel. I was never bored and not once did I want to skip a page or two. Rae has a way of building the story up without just putting words on a page. It was intelligent and very well thought out. I would recommend that everyone pick this book up. I was surprised at how I was genuinely surprised and every page was a journey to the next. Merciful Law is a perfect example of how a bestseller should be written.
 
Amanda @ behindtherows.com  bookshelves: indie-challenge   Read from September 18 to 20, 2011 — I own a copy, read count: 2
 
-Thanks, Amanda, for the awesome review of Merciful Law! So glad you liked it!!  Read Chapter 1 of Merciful Law http://www.darbyrae.com/library/ or order now http://www.darbyrae.com/shop/

Beyond Balancing your Check Book

All businesses have three major functioning areas: Operations/Production, Marketing/Sales, and Finance/Legal. The industry and specialization will dictate how large each department is and how it is structured. Even if an area is outsourced, it still exists. Traditional publishing carries the weight of several areas, but as self-published authors, we have to do it all or spend money to have it done.

As with many creative artists, writers typically don’t have a business background and therefore ignore some of the most basic financial business practices. Making money is only half the battle. Keeping it is the other half.

  1. Set an annual budget. The budget should include costs for research, editing, cover art, production, distribution, finance, legal, marketing, and sales.
  2. Spreadsheet the cost of goods sold, meaning, how much does it cost to produce and ship/deliver each book (title) and type of book. (Hardcover, paperback, e-book)
  3. Know your break-even point. This can be a bit of a moving target depending on your marketing costs, but not knowing puts you on a treadmill of spending.
  4. Create a profit and loss statement (P & L) at the end of each month. If you have someone prepare this for you, review it in a timely manner so you can make adjustments and business decisions from the data.
  5. Understand most businesses lose money their first year, many their first several years, but the old adage you have to spend money to make money is unfortunately true with self-publishing.
  6. Track revenue against costs of special promotions. If you attended a show that costs $500 for travel, registration, promotional material, etc…did you lose money? Did you break even? Did you make money? Did you give attendees a promotional code (usually with a discount) to order so future orders could also be tracked?

This may sound time consuming and complex, but you don’t have to do it all at once. (This is a great task to do when you are avoiding editing if you have already cleaned your entire house! It may also motivate you to finish the next book sooner.) You can hire help to set it all up, so you merely need to input the numbers, but I would suggest learning a little first so you have confidence it is being done correctly.

“Millions of business owners struggle every day in their business because they don’t realize how the financial side of their business impacts growth, borrowing ability, cash flow, ability to raise money and business value (your personal net worth).” Those are the words of Dan Lacy, Founder at Dynasty Business Building. “The root cause of most financial problems in business is due to the lack of financial knowledge.”

If you are in this group (and I was), may I recommend you read Dan’s book, Cracking the Financial Code.  In 2010 I attended a 10 week financial seminar series created and trained by Dan Lacy. This book was part of the material and it is absolutly worth reading. It is easy to read, simple to follow and will give you a foundation to understand the financial side of you business.

If you fail to plan, then plan to fail. Harsh words, but often true. While self-publishing has opened the doors to many more authors, if this is your career, congratulations, you are a business owner.

Redemption…Literary, That is.

When Janet Evanovich named her Stephanie Plum novels Smokin’ Seventeen, To the Nines, or Four to Score, did she reflect…my last title used alliteration, this time I’m using assonance? Did Nora Roberts think, “I need a good hyperbole,” when she wrote, “Panic struck, a knife in the belly,” in The Search?  Or did Harlan Coben ponder ‘simile or metaphor’ when he wrote, “He raises the shovel up and strikes the ground. The blade rips into the earth like it’s wet flesh,” in The Woods?  I think not. Just as Nicholas Sparks did not consider logos, ethos or pathos, before naming his novel The Last Song.

As an author, the tools of my trade are words. Tools I felt fairly skilled in using until it was recently brought to my attention (by a teenage girl who resembles me) that my knowledge of literary terms needs great improvement.

Once my kids entered high school, ‘helping them with homework’ meant bumbling through their text books to re-learn/review formulas, history, definitions, and examples of something I allegedly already learned and should still know. Sometimes I have helped, other times I gave the blank stare of an Alzheimer’s patient. But I’ve justified my faded knowledge saying, “It’s been decades since I used that information.” This typically works…or makes me feel better. Until last week.

My daughter was at home working on Language Arts and called me for some help. (I was driving—no access to dictionary.com.) The conversation went something like this:

“I need an example of assonance, Mom”

“Can you define assonance? I don’t remember that term.”

“I need one for aphorism too.”

“I don’t remember that term either.”

“What about allusion or anecdote? (Insert condescending tone) Can you give me an example of those?” (Silence) “Mom, you’re an author! You should know these terms.”

“I’m having difficulty hearing you honey…must be a bad…(click).” I knew she was wise to my bad cell reception disengagement tactic, but I had to give my defense some thought.

Have I ever thought, “What this title really needs is an onomatopoeia?” No, I have not. The desired effect is conscious; choice of literary terms is unconscious. (Persuasive opening statement…so I thought on.) Did Mike Wells consciously create tone, theme and assonance in his (highly acclaimed) YA Novel, Wild Child? Probably not, just as E.C. Sheedy likely did not choose personification and foreshadowing before she named her (complex and unpredictable) romantic suspense novel Killing Bliss. Although maybe when George Pappas named his (jaw-dropping) erotica novel Monogamy Sucks, he wanted to create controversy knowing one man’s parody is another man’s hyperbole…or reality. (Terminology is in the eye of the beholder.)

When I arrived home she was working on Algebra, so I lost the opportunity to present my defense.  I did, however, make a copy of her literary terms so I can prepare for my literary redemption.

 

Never Forget

I’ll never forget September 11th and the months that followed.

I’ll never forget watching in horror as the second plane hit, as people jumped to their death and others ran for their lives.

I’ll never forget the countless heroes that sacrificed their lives to save the wounded and tirelessly fought to find survivors.

I’ll never forget the unity of our nation, the strength of our leaders, and the retaliation toward terrorism.

Tears were shed publicly. Hope was clung to with unyielding fervor. Heartbreak was shown nationally.

I’ll never forget my cousin (not a NY firefighter) went to ground zero to be with my cousin who was a NY firefighter…because that’s what brothers do, he told my uncle.

I’ll never forget the call from my father sharing all our NY family was safe, accounted for and devastated.

I’ll never forget the relief and the guilt that I was not mourning the loss of a loved one when so many had lost…so many.

Family bonds were stronger.  Tolerance was higher.  Life was more precious.

I’ll never forget the grief and horror that came from the tragedy of 9/11. And I’ll never forget all the good that came from that tragedy.

I’ll never forget that my church saw parishioners who had been away for years.  And I’ll never forget we embraced them…and now miss them.

Hugs lasted longer.  Forgiveness was given freer.  Prayers were said more frequently. Love was shown more openly.

While there are countless videos, songs and poems that remind us of the incredible loss we suffered as a nation so we never forget; let us also remember that in the wake of this national catastrophe, our hearts were opened as we mourned for the loss of strangers and prayed for the safety of everyday heroes.