Monday, June 27, 2011

Punctuality Problem? Problem.

Habitual punctuality is a condition that I am clearly in the minority with. I will readily admit that I am very meticulous when it comes to my time; and this is only because I understand that time is the one commodity that you CAN NOT GET BACK!

In my line of work, meetings are a necessity. It's just what we do.  But more often than not (90% of the time), I find myself waiting for people who are running late for appointments that they themselves have set the date and time for and I just don't understand it.

For the doctors' offices that set appointments and then leave you sitting in the lobby for an hour past your appointment time, why not just give your clients a window of say 9-5 and take them on a first come first serve basis? After all, if they are late or miss an appointment you don't hold them up on charging that cancellation fee!

And for the the wedding parties that leave their guests sitting for hours waiting for the wedding ceremony or reception to start...don't even get me started on that.

Then there are the people that you have to tell that everything starts 2 hours earlier than it actually starts just so they'll make it somewhere near the "on time" mark; and we all know people like that.

Ergo, I present this post to let those who think it's cool to be "fashionably" late for everything that its very irritating to say the least and here's why:

1. It displays a lack of professionalism.

In my managerial capacity, I have had a total of 5 people show up late for job interviews. Can you guess what happened to those 5 individuals? Their resumes were thrown in the garbage and they were politely thanked for their time and told that they would not be considered for the job due to their lack of professionalism with being unable to show up to their INTERVIEW on time. 

Seriously, how do you show up late for a job interview and still expect to get hired? Who does that? 

If you are meeting with someone in a business capacity for the first time, your first impression is usually going to be the lasting one. Showing up on time says, "I'm ready to work!" or "I'm ready to get the job done!" Whereas showing up late says that you really don't take anything seriously.

2. It's rude.

Being late is rude, flat out. We all understand that sometimes things happen that can prevent one from being on time, but this should be the exception and not the rule.

When you make a habit of being late, it tells the person that is left waiting for you that you don't respect them or their time.  It's also a non-verbal statement that they are on your dime and whatever it is that has to be done can wait until you feel like showing up.

Did you really mean it that way? Probably not, but if you really cared enough to say otherwise you have would have planned better to account for unforeseen circumstances, traffic and whatever else you could blame your tardiness on.

Being on time is not a race thing and it's not a gender thing.  It's a respect thing. If making time deadlines isn't your thing and you're dealing with people who hold that in high regard then it's up to you to figure out a system that won't have people wanting to bite your head off when you finally do show up. 

As for me, if you decide to show up late, and more than 15 minutes late at that...don't be surprised if I'm gone when you get there.  Just saying...time is money. #keepitmoving

Ok, I'm done ranting now. As you were! :-) 

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Self-Publishing Lessons Learned

Since self-publishing my first book in 2004 I have learned A LOT.   Some of those lessons were nice cushy lessons that didn't cost me anything but time, while others were a serious pain in the pocketbook. Pocketbook...who says that? Anyway, I digress.

While publishing a book isn't rocket-science, it is still a very time-consuming and sometimes intimidating process. Since I have been blessed with a wonderful network of very knowledgeable people who were willing to take the time to share pivotal information with me, I have decided to share few key things I've learned with you.

1. Learn your craft.

Just because you like to read doesn't automatically make you a good writer. Not everyone was born to be a writer.  As astonishing as that revelation is, it's true. Not everyone is gifted with a firm grasp of how to articulate the written word, so therefore it is imperative to study the craft and learn your strengths and weaknesses. This goes for the gifted, as well as those who were destined to work a little harder at it. Things like knowing how to put sentences together, formulate a storyline, use proper tense and punctuation are all very important things to know if you plan to write a book.

2. Finish the book.

Finishing your book is the most important part of any book project, because lets face it: If you don't have a finished book to sell, then you're pretty much wasting your time, as well as everyone else's.  Writing a book is more than a notion, and it takes time, dedication and discipline to do. So before you start going around telling your friends, family and everyone else who will listen that you're publishing a book, get the book finished first.

3. Get your book edited.

After I finished my first book I was so excited about the fact that I had finally finished it, all I wanted to do was to get it out for the world to see. I wasn't working with a lot of money at the time, so I figured I would cut corners by editing the book myself and then have some of my friends take a second glance at it for me.  WRONG ANSWER! 

After releasing the first run of my book, which was chocked full of typo's, grammatical and punctuation errors, I was forced to endure the humiliation of receiving reviews that pegged my work as having the potential of being a great story if it didn't have so many editing mishaps as a distraction for the reader to overcome. 

As a writer, it's always a bad idea to try to edit your own work simply because you're not going to catch all of your own mistakes because your brain is only going to see what you "meant" to write. And as far as having your friends do "glance overs" for you, they may not understand the written word as well as you think they do.

So after you finally finish your manuscript, make it a point to find and hire a good editor who understands your vision for your story and has a proven track record with respect to editing.  This is not something that should ever be compromised. This is your work, so be prepared to invest in it. Your readers deserve it.

4. Pick a great cover. 

The cover of your book is your reader's first introduction to your book. For the hundreds, thousands or even millions of people that you want to buy your book, you have to give them a reason to pick it up in the first place. This too was a lesson that I had to learn the hard way.

The cover for my first book, The Breaking Point, was symbolic for me. I wanted it to be metaphoric for the story's subject matter, so it was a picture of shattered glass with a knife behind it with red undertones. It was very cerebral and thought-provoking in my mind, so when a marketing expert told me that I needed to change my cover to be more appealing I was thoroughly offended.

Old Cover
So, I ignored her advice because after all what did she know? My cover was special and I felt that what was in between the front and back cover was much more important that what was on the outside. I was so confident that my readers would just get it, because after my mind, I was a great writer.  As a result I spent a lot more time explaining myself, and my story, to potential readers than I did selling books.

Needless to say, a year later I took her up on her advice and, lo-and-behold, my book started selling itself because people would just walk by and pick it up to look at the cover and would then flip it over to read the back. The new cover gave me what the marketing expert referred to as "shelf appeal".

Revised Cover
 When designing your cover, don't plan to be cheap. Do your research and honestly ask yourself if this wasn't your book, would you pick it up off the shelf?

5. Know your market.

When selling anything, it's always important to know who you are selling to. It's a simple matter of the timeless principal of "supply and demand". If you study, learn and understand who is demanding your product and how to effectively supply that demand, then you will be successful in your endeavors. If you don't, you won't. It's that simple.

Marketing your book effectively takes imagination, drive and commitment.  Imagination to come up with creative ways to make and keep your book relative to your audience; drive to push yourself to find and keep up with the latest and most effective marketing tactics and to educate yourself on all aspects of the craft; and the commitment to see it through to reach and exceed your goals.

In the grand scheme of things, these five principals are the meat and potatoes of the self-publishing journey. If you are able to diligently and aggressively approach them the rest will be a piece of cake!

Check out the Prison Chronicles Series on Kindle or paperback!

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Till Death...Do Us Part is now available for rent on Amazon!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Show Review: Single Ladies

I'm sure by now we have all bore witness to VH1's newest show Single Ladies starring Stacy Dash, according to it's 1.8 million viewers for the past 2 episodes, and formulated some sort of opinion as to whether or not this show will sink or swim. As for me, I've held off for two weeks and now I'm going to go ahead and jump right in.

First, I am going to lead off with the positive: I love LisaRaye. I think I'm a little biased because I met her and found her to be a very classy woman, with a great head on her shoulders. Stacey Dash is the perfect eye-candy because, lets face it, the woman is gorgeous and apparently doesn't have the ability to age, and I also have to give it up to the producers of the show for putting together an incredibly beautiful cast. 

Now that we've gotten the formalities out of the way...

Single Ladies is basically a 2011 version of Girlfriends that is set in Atlanta and explores all of the same scenarios: a core group of female friends in a big city who are trying to find or keep "the one".  Not only has this show premise been done to death, the acting on this show is un-good. Yes, I meant to say that...un-good. 

While I understand that this production is providing work for black actors, as a viewer I still want to be entertained; and when I say entertained I mean I want to get lost in the story because the actors have pulled me into it and I am able to experience it to the point that I get irritated when the commercials interrupt. With this show it was quite to the contrary in the way that I actually welcomed the commercials as a distraction from the flaccid delivery of the main characters. 

The celebrity cameos are cool, the colorful backdrops are definitely a plus, but all the set dressing in the world can't overshadow bad acting.

There's still a lot of season left and I personally think they can pull it off. As with Girlfriends, in which the acting was also not that great when the show first started, I have high hopes for Single Ladies. I think the show definitely has potential and I am willing to hang in there for at least a few more episodes to cheer them on.  

 Here's to keeping hope alive Single Ladies!

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