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Obsessed with books, eBooks, marketing, & chocolate.

NaNoWriMo Nanaimo!

October 31st, 2010 . by Peggy

I’m proud to be sponsoring several events in Nanaimo, BC throughout November, and into December, for the international NaNoWriMo competition.

If you’re in the Nanaimo, BC area, please come out and join us for one of the events listed here, at Meetup.com.

We’d love to meet you!

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BookCamp and Social Media Camp Weekend

October 4th, 2010 . by Peggy

This past weekend, I attended two events. Friday was #bcvan10, or BookCamp Vancouver, and Sunday was #smcv10, or Social Media Camp Victoria. Both events made quite an impression on me.

Here’s a bulleted list of what I learned at Social Media Camp and BookCamp. (I’m too tired to turn my notes into prose.)

  1. I need to leave the house more often. (So much for the glamorous benefits of being self-employed.)
  2. Book publishers are trying really hard to succeed in the area of eBooks. Some are fighting the ePub revolution tooth and nail, but many houses are working to convert entire back catalogues to ePub format. The problem is, they’re spending far, far too much money to do it. Their methodology for this needs serious re-examination.
  3. Social media ROI is measurable after all – it’s not just about karma. Correlating the relationship between tweets and visits to my blog is easy. Visits to my blog has a direct relationship to new client intake. (But don’t mess with karma, regardless.)
  4. I’m not the only one who wants to know the real people behind my social media connections. People can build a certain amount of trust online, and that’s accomplished best with video (I know that from personal experience – nobody said it this weekend) but meeting people in the real world is what closes the deal.
  5. My personal understanding of the way SEO and social media work together was not fantasy – it was bang on. (Blog post or white paper forthcoming.)
  6. I think I’m going to re-issue a number of the eBooks I’ve created under various pseudonyms with my real name slapped on the front. Re-brand, re-market.
  7. People trying to self-publish fiction need a whole new way of connecting and doing business. I hope that some of the people I met on Friday at BookCamp have a chance soon to attend Social Media Camp. Everyone in that business is either lost, frustrated, or slowly going broke. It’s crazy. Non-fiction has it much easier, but there’s a reason I don’t do fiction. It’s just sooooo hard.
  8. It was very encouraging on Friday to hear that so many people are on the eBook bandwagon. I had serious concerns about being the naughty eBook girl in a room full of hardcover lovers. (Which I still am, by the way.) But instead, I felt encouraged and optimistic about the relationship between eBooks and traditional publishing houses, for the very first time. Many companies might survive, including ones that only a year ago had self-prophesied their doom.
  9. I need to be much more consistent about my own application of social media. My Klout rating had dropped to *6* from 24. But, after today, it’s now up to 35. @meganberry was right – it’s not about the number of followers.
  10. This is going to be a crazy next three months.

And one more thing: #11. Affiliate marketing is still the big pothole that I see missing from both the book marketing picture and the social media picture. (Document of some sort forthcoming.)

Cool people I met, connected with, or otherwise admire from this weekend:

- http://twitter.com/unmarketing (Scott Stratten, Keynote at #SMCV10)
- http://twitter.com/julien (Julien Smith, Keynote at #SMCV10)
- http://twitter.com/jmaxsfu (John Maxwell, Professor at SFU, co-organizer of #bcvan10, eBook advocate)
- http://twitter.com/justyn (Justyn Howard, Speaker at #SMCV10)
- http://twitter.com/brendonjwilson (Speaker at #bcvan10)
- http://twitter.com/raincoaster (Lorraine Murphy, Speaker at #SMCV10)
-  http://twitter.com/Kathleen_Fraser (Speaker at #bcvan10 and Mpubber)
- http://twitter.com/stitchtowhere (Cynara Geissler, Speaker with Kathleen at #bcvan10)
- http://twitter.com/seancranbury (Host of Books on the Radio, guy with camera, co-organizer of #bcvan10, Mpubber)
- http://twitter.com/daveohoots (Marketing Dude for Hootsuite.com and Speaker at #smcv10)
http://twitter.com/tpholmes (co-organizer of #smcv10)
- http://twitter.com/meganberry (Marketing Manager for Klout.com and Speaker at #smcv10)
- http://twitter.com/somisguided (Monique Trottier, Social Media chick and consultant, co-organizer of #bcvan10)

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The Word On The Street – Here I Come!

September 14th, 2010 . by Peggy

I’m super proud to be speaking at this year’s The Word On The Street Festival in Vancouver, BC. On Sunday, September 26th, the other two Book Broads and I will be hosting a FREE panel titled “Build it and they will come – NAH!” It’s all about book marketing, publicity, and generally being in people’s faces.

The description of our talk goes something like this: “Many writers assume once the book is complete, it will sell itself, right? Wrong. No matter the method of publication — traditionally published, entrepreneurially published, or electronically published — the onus of promotion falls on the author. The Book Broads offer practical advice for writers (published or not) to raise their profiles, extend their reach and build their fan base.
Join Angela Crocker, Kimberly Plumley, and Peggy Richardson as they take the sting out of the overwhelming prospect of media interviews, blog posts, Facebook updates, podcasting, and so much more.”

Queue up early! We start at 1:45pm downstairs in the Peter Kaye room of the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library. (Yeah, that building that looks like the Roman Colloseum.)

See you there!

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I’m speaking at the Editors’ Association of Canada on Sept. 25th

September 8th, 2010 . by Peggy

I’ll be speaking with the other two Book Broads on Sept. 25th for the Editor’s Association of Canada (Editors.ca), about Creating and Editing Social Content, from 10am to 4pm at SFU’s Harbour Centre Campus, in downtown Vancouver. George Plumley, the Author of WordPress 24 Hour Trainer will be joining us to talk about WordPress, the world’s most widely-used blogging platform and content management system. (And the platform upon which this blog you’re reading is built.)

The focus of our talk is about creating that which really drives social media: CONTENT. Without loyalty to platform, we’ll talk about various platforms and their advantages and disadvantages, including blogging, FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many many others. We’ll send you away with some fast tools that you can put to use right away, and of course, some chocolate.

Early Bird pricing ends Sept. 14th, $100 for Members of the EAC, and $160 for non-Members. Click here to register.

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Busting the eBook Myth

May 19th, 2010 . by Peggy
eBooks are now hugely popular. If that’s the case, why are there still printed books?
eBooks are the best and worst thing to happen to the publishing industry in the last 200 years. They are the best thing because in a sense, they level the playing field for many Authors who wish to self-publish. However, they’re also the worst thing to happen, because they are so grossly misunderstood.
eBooks are not a replacement for printed books. They simply serve a different market. I still buy paper books all the time – but I buy them for totally different reasons than I buy eBooks.
What makes a book a good candidate for an eBook are three main things, what I call “The Three M’s of Publishing”.
The first M is Modularization. Think of chunking your content out in smaller pieces. If it’s non-fiction, this is often easier than for fiction, although some fiction might be able to be serialized. But readers of non-fiction are often trying to solve a problem or get specific information, and being able to give them just what they need, right when they need it, is very powerful. This ability to modularize content and offer it as an immediate download to their electronic device is critical to many readers.
The other two M’s are Mobility and Multimedia. Everyone who’s bought a cell phone in the last couple of years has the ability to read a book on a mobile device, and the iPad is synonymous with mobile reading of rich, multimedia-enabled content. Think of all the ways a video or an audio can show you something that words can’t describe. We need to expand our definition of a book to include non-textual material – whatever best serves the needs of the reader is the best ‘book’ to create.
Paper books are not going away. The marketing guru Seth Godin said, ‘The book is a souvenir.’ This means that we’ll pay for things other than content, such as status (such as limited edition hardcovers), beautiful and exceptional design, and collectability. How many of us have every book from our favourite Author on our shelf? When the next one comes out, we’re buying another paper book to complete the collection. That’s why I just bought the latest from my favourite fiction Author last week, in a large hardcover edition. I had a spot reserved for it on my shelf before it was even released.
eBooks create new and continually expanding opportunities for self-published Authors. But, there are things all eBook creators should know before they get into the game.
Number one, you still need to hire an Editor. Number two, you need to become familiar with the technology that will facilitate and sell your eBook. And third, you need to think of the eBook as a business. Authors need to get serious about marketing, publicity, and understanding technology. Many first-time eBook Authors make huge mistakes in the area of design, market strategy, and simply writing well. A bad eBook is still a bad book!
We romanticize much of the art of Writing, and the image of the Author with pen in hand, sitting in a peaceful setting and worrying about nothing other than perfecting their craft. That myth has just got to be busted, and fast. This is why I really feel that we need to eliminate the term ‘self-publishing’. The word ‘self’ means just that – they are writing for themselves. That’s fine if you don’t expect to sell thousands of copies. Instead, I think we need to use the term ‘entrepreneurial publishing’. That means that Authors are objective, and they don’t work in isolation. They network. They get out there. That’s what makes a really great book of any sort.
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I’m Speaking at Northern Voice This Weekend #nv10

May 5th, 2010 . by Peggy

I’ll be speaking at Northern Voice (#nv10) this weekend in Vancouver, Canada. This is the Canadian personal blogging and social media conference that’s now in its’ sixth year, and is being held at the Life Sciences Centre out at UBC.

I’m very proud to be co-presenting with Angela Crocker and Kim Plumley as The Book Broads. The title of our talk is “Flog Your Blog“, which is all about how to turn your blog into a book. The talk is scheduled for 1:45pm on Saturday May 8th, in room 1510. (That’s a bigger room than we were originally scheduled to use.)

Topics we’ll cover include;

- traditional publishing vs. self-publishing
- how to tell if your blog is a good candidate for publishing
- examples of bloggers who’ve successfully turned their blogs into books
- what *not* to do to turn your blog into a book
- how to use social media in conjunction with traditional publicity to help market your book
- how to choose the right options for various types of publishing
- eBooks vs. print books (and other options you may not have considered)
- how to market your book long before it’s published
- what the real job of a successful Author is
- your first, second and third steps to get it happening

I’ll be following up this session with my workshop on June 19th in Langley (near Vancouver, Canada), the eBook Jumpstart: http://ebookjumpstartlangley.eventbrite.com/.

Hope to see you all there!

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Life Lessons From World of Warcraft (WOW)

April 23rd, 2010 . by Peggy

I’ve recently started playing WOW for the first time, which makes me a pretty late bloomer as Gamers go. But it’s interesting what I’ve learned while playing.

For those of you not initiated, Warcraft is the world’s largest online game community, with roughly 11 million players worldwide. For a modest $15-ish dollars a month, you can create a fantasy character (or multiple characters) that allows you to run around a rather sophisticated world called Azeroth. With several continents and types of environments, Azeroth is a somewhat bronze-age style universe with an exciting array of weapons, magical people and places, and really great outfits. Players can interact with each other, even players that may live a great distance from you in the real world.

I’m still what’s considered a casual player. I play about 3-4 times a week for as much as a couple of hours at a time. If someone had asked me 6 months ago if I had a spare 6 hours a week, I would have laughed and stated a firm “no”. But since like most players, I typically log in sometime between 10pm and 4 am, it seems I’ve found the time.

I started playing as a sort of experiment, part of my self-challenge to try new things and test my brain’s ability to create new neuron pathways. I was surprised then I enjoyed it, and further surprised when I realized I was learning new things about myself as a writer and as a person, simply by playing the game. Such as…

Patience

I will never be a level 80 character. But, I’ve discovered I’m happy being a level 20. A person as competitive as myself should be anxious to ‘level up’, as they say. But really, the number next to my name is no longer important. I had no idea when I started now long it would take to become proficient at this game, because I had no previous gaming experience, and I had no idea how sophisticated gaming had become. Now, I see other level 1 characters standing in the street, their players presumably checking their maps or reading the manual, and I realize how much I’ve learned. But I know why I’m here – it’s to relax and enjoy the game, not the win or lose.

I Need A Lifebar in My 3d World

The little gauge that hovers over the head of my character tells me vital stats about myself and about others with whom I interact in the game. I need one of these in real life, but instead of how much life my character has left, it will rack up my calories consumed so far in a day. I need the secondary mana bar to track how much room I have left on my credit card. A little “duel” symbol will appear every time I’m wrestling my child into her school clothes, and a little “zzz” will appear anytime I’m tired and sit down for a quiet few minutes, so that no-one will bother me. Other people will have their names hover over their heads, so that I’m no longer embarrassed by not being able to remember names at networking events. In reality, I’m developing little tricks for myself to improve my self-organization and memory.

I Like Flinging Fireballs At Things

Sometimes, being aggressive and taking sides is OK. I’ve held back releasing a few essays and articles because I’m worried that my position on a less-popular side of the fence might not win friends and influence people. Instead, I now think it might be OK to be a little controversial, and not try to please everyone. Holding back makes for very boring blog posts.

I’m a little bit Alliance, and a little bit Horde

Sometimes good and bad is not black and white. I have characters in both factions, and I play them approximately equally. They both have advantages and disadvantages. My primary Alliance (traditional good guys) character is a huntress, and my primary Horde (traditional bad guys) character is a Mage, which is a magician/priestess-type role. I’ve never encountered a character from either faction that didn’t play with honour. And being challenged to a duel by a massive and high-ranking Horde character is very flattering. Especially when it’s done politely. In my 3d world, I’m trying to be slower to judge, and to let myself be open to possibilities I had not previously considered.

People Can Surprise You

I can’t believe who else plays this game. The genteel and very ladylike mother of one of my Authors surprised me by offering to help with a game problem that I posted on my FaceBook profile. Turns out she has multiple level 80 characters. Her son tells me, “Oh yeah – Mom’ll take you down.” Who knew?

The Worst Thing That Can Happen May Not Really Be That Bad

The worst thing that can happen in WOW is that your character dies, usually by being killed by a non-player (automatic / game generated) character or beast that you’re supposedly out to kill. But really, all that happens is that you need to resurrect yourself, using magic or by running back to where your corpse is in the game. That’s it. For low-level characters, there isn’t even a penalty to be resurrected by the “graveyard spirit”. That’s it. You just keep playing. Often, you go back with greater knowledge of your enemy, and can then strike when he’s at his weakest, and win the challenge.

I Need To Check My Compass More Often

I’m an A-type personality, and a planner in my 3d life, and so I also am in-game. But, Azeroth is a large and complicated place. Sometimes I’m not where I think I am. Tracking my quests using a clear and simple system helps me stay on track for my goals. Since beginning to play, I’ve enlarged my white board in my office, and expanded my use of automatic self-organization tools and systems. It helps to be constantly checking my goals and my progress against them.

I’m not saying that playing online games is the solution to all things that ail, but so far, this experiment has been completely fascinating. I hope to continue this indefinitely, though, within certain rules, such as not playing before 8pm, and promising to never fling a frost spike at my husband if he challenges me to a duel.

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Did You Write 50k Words for NaNoWriMo?

December 3rd, 2009 . by Peggy

Well, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month online writing contest) is over for another year.  I didn’t reach my goal of 50,000 words either, but if like me, your goal was not to just push out junk, you’re in good company.

Check out this post from MenWithPens.ca about what it means to write something that you can build from, and why it’s OK if you can’t pump out a decent 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

I’m ready to try again for next year. November is always busy, but perhaps by this time next year, I’ll have finished this years’ novel.

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Open Source Software for Writers

November 4th, 2009 . by Peggy

Writer’s tools are extremely expensive, especially in terms of software. Here’s a great list of free open-source software designed just for writers.

First, lets define exactly what open source software really means. The term “open-source” comes from the idea that the source code of the software is revealed to the public, unlike Microdaft where everything is super-duper secret. (Or at least, so they think.) When the source code of a piece of software is available to anyone, it means that anyone in the software community can use it – within certain very loose guidelines – to create new software, create add-ons, refine the program, and so on. The one major caveat: they cannot take this free source code and sell it for a direct profit.

Does that mean it’s free? Well, sort of. There’s a strong code of ethics in the open-source community, and almost nobody abuses the grass-roots system that has grown up around this concept. Most people who contribute to open-source projects make their living by consulting, designing, supporting, and doing other things alongside the product of the open-source project, not the project itself.

However, this same code suggests that if there’s a donation button, and you’re happy with the software, then by all means, buy the programmer a virtual coffee. Realize that programmers of open-source software make only marginally more than your average freelance writer. Yep – a couple of bucks wouldn’t hurt either of you.

The website osalt.com has a massive database of open-source software for almost any purpose. (Be aware that they also offer downloads of commercial software – scroll past that to get to the free stuff.) But here are some of my personal recommendations for writers;

- OpenOffice, an alternative to Microserf Office. I have not used any MSO products for several years – this does more than MSO ever will, and looks almost identical. Virtually no learning curve, except for some exceptionally cool new stuff. Imagine this: free, does more, and fewer crashes. I once used this to layout an entire book for print, which I’ll talk about in a future blog post.

- WordPress, the blogging platform that this blog you’re reading is based upon. (This is different from WordPress.com, which is when you use it on a public server, which I do not generally endorse for writers.) I’m talking about WordPress.org, which offers the version that you can download and install on almost any webhost. A zany array of plugins and graphical themes are also available at WordPress.org/extend/.

- XMind, a mind-mapping application that can be used not only to distill your writing ideas, but also to map out characters, plot lines, and even help you figure out who the murderer is.

- PDF995, which although not really an open-source project, it is still free and very reliable. Even though you’ve read in other posts what a fan I am of Adobe products, I still use this for creating most of my PDF documents from typed documents, because it’s lighter and faster than the real thing. This version displays ads each time you use it, but you could just slap down the $10 and not see the ads.

- Celtx (pronounced “Kel-tix”) offers an alternative to the writer’s plague of crazy pieces of paper in every room of your house. Designed as a pre-production and planning tool for screenwriting and similar story-based art forms, it’s very useful for writers. Think of this as a digital binder, collecting your ideas and storyboards, not to mention the actual script, all in one place. Great collaboration tools for more than one contributor.

And for Writers Who Podcast…

- My beloved Audacity, the program that I use to record and edit almost all my audio podcasts. Easy to use, with cool built-in effects and a very forgiving undo button. Even the kids will love this.

- I recently discovered The Levelator, a dandy yet tiny application with big benefits for any podcaster. Smooths out levels and jumpy volume levels. This saves me hours of work.

If you can find a way to give back to the open-source community, please do so by donation or by promotion. It will keep writers in software for a long time coming.

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Why I Love Rotary

June 26th, 2009 . by Peggy

pegspaulharrisLast night, my old Rotary Club in Langley surprised me with an unanticipated accolade – I’m now a Paul Harris Fellow.

The Paul Harris Award is the highest award given worldwide in Rotary, and my club chose to bestow this honour on me in recognition of my contributions to the club website, and the website of another special Rotary event. I was one of three honourees, along with my friend and fellow Member Fred Clark and new club Member Ana Sawatzky, whom I don’t know yet, but she sure has great taste in shoes.

As per the Rotary website, “The Paul Harris Society is named after Paul P. Harris, founder of Rotary International. Paul Harris formed the world’s first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, on 23 February 1905. His intention was to recapture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth. Today, Paul Harris
Society contributions to The Rotary Foundation support a wide range of humanitarian grants and educational programs that enable Rotarians to bring hope and promote international understanding throughout the world.”

If you are looking for a fulfilling volunteer opportunity, I strongly encourage you to examine your local Rotary Club. Rotary has had a profound impact on my life, and is even responsible for introducing me to my husband of 17 years, as we were introduced by someone in his Rotaract club at the time. Rotary has been not only the most significant and rewarding volunteer opportunity I’ve ever had, but has been a second family for me. I found myself overwhelmed with emotion several times last evening, as I looked around and saw so many friends that we miss so very much since moving to the gulf islands. I only managed to keep it together due to great conversation and fun company. (And, two glasses of wine didn’t hurt.)

To the Members of The Rotary Club of Langley Sunrise, in Langley BC, Canada, thank you so very much for this honour. Please know that I am extremely grateful, and that this award moves me to not just continue, but to expand my involvement within Rotary International.

Sincerely,

-peggy

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