Saturday, February 25, 2012

Elusive Luck


As I write this , I can picture Tina Turner in a red-sequined minidress, wailing out the title for all of us struggling authors, set to music and her incredible dance routine.
The word “luck,” beaten and bastardized, has been tossed around like an evil stepchild whenever book-marketing success (or lack thereof) is discussed.
            For two days this week, I took advantage of KDP’s, (Kindle Direct Publishing), Select promotion and placed my suspense eBook, She’s Not There, for free download on Amazon. At the end of the two days, I’d only had 8,202 downloads compared to a friend’s 26,000 downloads using the same promotion. She told me, “Well there was a lot of luck involved.” Her luck, she said, was due to the fact that a popular eBook site noticed her promotion and highlighted it for followers. Were she not a close friend I may not have questioned her comment. She is, however, and I happen to know her “luck” did not occur by chance.
            I know firsthand her success is not all due to luck. She’s a devoted marketer, and spends her every available moment doing anything possible to keep up her book sales’ momentum going. Me, I’m addicted to things like Spider Solitaire, playing bridge and watching The Young and the Restless; my marketing ethic is not nearly as fierce!
Luck is more likely to happen to those who go after it. As odd luck would have it, (no pun intended) I was in a waiting room for my scheduled eye check up this week and spotted a magazine with an article about luck. The receptionist was nice enough to copy it for me. Reading it, I quickly saw how everything in Rebecca Webber’s article on luck applied to all of us self-published authors.
You can make your own luck, she says, and goes on to describe traits of lucky people.
1.    Lucky People Expect the Best
Lucky people believe they will be successful. Research shows that if you do, your odds of hitting a lucky streak go up. Ben Fletcher, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, says there’s no magic involved—expectancy is a real driver of behavior. Having a firm belief creates a good outcome because it motivates you to make it happen. He says, “Expecting something as opposed to wanting or hoping for it, will affect your decision-making. You’ll be more inclined to act on your expectations and put in more of an effort.”
 Writers—find ways to stay positive and expect success—it works!
2.    Lucky People Notice What Others Miss
It’s not the chance situations in life that are different, but a person’s ability to see what’s right in front of him. Lucky people are more open to random opportunities. They notice them, unlucky people don’t. Lucky people are flexible in their thinking, and it’s that relaxed, open attitude that allows them to see what other don’t.
Keep your eyes open for opportunities—they’re out there!
3.    Lucky People Say “Yes”
 They do not remain passive. Instead they seize opportunities as they come without endless second-guessing. “When chance encounters occur, don’t overthink them, act on them. The only way to guarantee that you won’t get a great opportunity is by not seizing the moment.” (Don Saucier, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Kansas State University.)
            Don’t procrastinate—do it!
4.    Lucky People Switch Things Up
By meeting new people and trying new things, lucky people increase their chances of getting opportunities. Luck won’t come looking for you or knocking at your door. The more you put yourself out there, the more likely it is you will find luck.
            Experiment—try things other writer’s recommend.
5.    Lucky People Bounce Back
They don’t let one failure sidetrack their road to success. When you let a bad break get you down, you close the door on other situations that could lead to a lucky break. Closely linked to the first trait, expecting the best, bouncing back means you will actually have a greater chance of success with each failure because you’ll be trying more often.
            Regard each bad break as an opportunity to find the right course for you!

Anyone interested in reading Rebecca Webber's article on lucky people, it is in the January issue of Woman's Day magazine.

Dear readers,
            Although I didn’t spell out detailed ways these traits apply to the self-published author, I’m sure their relevance is obvious. I also didn’t add how they also pertain to all of us dieters. The traits practiced by lucky people all apply to the overweight as we fight for a leaner body. Since I struggle with both marketing my book and dropping fat from my body, I keep plugging along and cherish every success no matter how small.
Thanks for following my route,

Saturday, February 18, 2012

ePublishing - Ten Things I Learned the Hard Way

Ten things I learned the hard way about ePublishing
About a year ago, a member of my writer’s group ePublished her novel on Amazon and Smashwords. The rest of us, encouraged by her boldness, immediately decided to follow suit. I put my suspense novel, She’s Not There, on Amazon and Smashwords last August. My print copy wasn’t published until recently, following a change in cover art, an author photo shoot, and a professional formatting. I made a lot of mistakes in the process and decided to share a few.
1.     Have a polished product BEFORE you upload your manuscript. Readers do notice problems like typos, spelling, grammar, etc. Keep in mind that Amazon and other sites that sell eBooks, let readers inspect a generous sample. A product that screams “amateur” won’t sell books. Don’t be in such a rush to get your book up that you forget to make it your best effort.
2.     Hire a professional to format  your manuscript. Doing it yourself is not only for those having excellent skills at following directions, but also only for those with supreme patience. Not having either, I’ll never self-format again.
3.     If you have questions for Amazon KDP, keep in mind that it takes two or three days to get an answer. So if something gets screwed up in your process, and it will, it won’t get worked out for a day or more.
4.     Your book, after uploading, will not be ready for sale instantly on Amazon. It also takes a day or two before it’s ready for sale.
5.     eBooks do not sell themselves. Check out the wealth of information available on blogs and writer’s sites that give advice on marketing your book, paying particular attention to writer’s who have had success.
6.     Become a social media presence before you publish. Some people make themselves known on every site. I’ve found that to be impractical for me and prefer using only a few and spending more time on them.
7.     Buyer beware. Before paying for any service, check out its reputability. There are plenty of scams out there ready to pounce on eager writers.
8.     Advertising  I have not had good luck with paid advertising. There are many sites out there asking for a “donation” in exchange for promoting your book. While not scams, I have not found them to be good sources for book sales. If they want money, I’d advise avoiding those that don’t have a proven track record.
9.     Everyone will get different results from the same marketing method.
I paid for an ad on Goodreads after reading an article by an author thrilled with the results she’d gotten by placing an ad on their site. When I ran one, it did not bring in any sales. It’s possible she paid for a much splashier ad (I bought the cheapest), but the point is that whatever the promo method, results will vary.
10. Keep your expectations low!  It takes time and effort to sell eBooks. It won’t happen for you if you put your book up for sale and sit back to wait for results. There is always an element of luck involved, but remember in order to be available for that luck, you have to be there when it strikes. (It’s like that great door prize you can’t win if you aren’t present.) So keep busy with your social presence online, your networking, author interviews and reviews and joining groups where other authors gather. Be ready for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when it appears!

Dear readers,
Thank you for following my blog. I'd like to make a disclaimer: I'm neither a professional in the publishing industry or the health care field. My advice to you on writing or dieting is based on my many years of experience agonizing over both! 
Till next time,

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Breaking the binge-eating habit.

Help! I Can’t Stop Eating

Yesterday I went crashing off my weight loss program. I started with one of my favorite foods—potato chips—kettle fried. After downing nearly the entire bag of chips, I craved something sweet. Luckily, there was a box of six Snicker’s ice-cream bars tucked away in the freezer. So I ate one. And went back for another one. It made no sense to leave them as a temptation for another day, so what the heck—I ate the whole box.
When suppertime rolled around, I wasn’t all that hungry. But I had to have a meal, right? I ate half of a frozen (I did take time to cook it) pepperoni pizza. And for dessert, at least six mint candies I had stashed in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. I was on a binge and it wasn’t pretty.
            I realize not all of you readers are as considerably overweight as I am. For some of you who struggle with only a few pounds, a binge might consist of a hamburger and fries. I have a friend (she’s tiny of course) who thinks she’s weak when she treats herself to an occasional Dove bar. It’s all relative.
             It’s difficult to get back to wise eating after an all out binge, but personally, I’ve done that more successfully than I have preventing one. Since prevention seems to be the better answer, let’s look at some ways to keep a wild overindulgence from occurring.

1.     When trying to lose weight, use a plan that lets you factor in foods you enjoy eating. Nothing spurs an overdose of food like deprivation.
2.     Don’t keep large supplies of tempting foods in your pantry. (or depending on how susceptible you are to a particular food, even small amounts!) Binging is a lot less likely to occur if your trigger foods are geographically inaccessible.
3.     Don’t skip meals. Ever.
4.     Plan meals made up of foods you enjoy.
5.     Eat slowly. Give your “I’ve had enough” meter time to kick in.
6.     If you’ve started to binge, i.e. like me and the potato chips, wait 30 minutes before moving on to your next food choice. That will give your body time to recognize that it’s satisfied and your mind time to play referee to your impulse eating.
7.     You’ve heard this one before, but food shopping when you’re hungry is like a pickpocket at a fairground—high on stimulus, low on brainpower. Plan shopping trips wisely. (This one was my latest downfall!)
8.     Always eat when you’re physically hungry and practice stopping when you are just approaching comfortably full. Your body will be satisfied long before your emotional hunger is at rest; feed that kind of hunger something other than food.

Dear Readers,
Please share with us any tips that work for you. Binge eating is a difficult habit to overcome. It beckons to me even when I think I have all the stops in place to overcome it. I highly recommend Geneen Roth’s books on compulsive eating for anyone trying to bread the cycle of dieting and binging.
Have a great week,

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Don't Let the Scale run your life!

Death, Speaking in Public, or The Bathroom Scale?

       Speaking in front of an audience is what experts tell us is people’s number one fear, with fear of dying running a close second. I beg to differ. For all of us fatties, the scale sitting in the corner of our bathrooms is high on our list of fearfuls—we feel it’s critical presence even on days we have no intention of stepping on it—it sits there gathering dust and mocking us.
            Don’t let the scale run your life!
            What we see on the scale in the morning can set our mood to  negative for the rest of the day. A good result and we’re walking on air. It’s senseless. Our body weight fluctuates dramatically from day to day depending on what we eat, our hormones, and the amount of exercise we performed the day before.
            A while back, a friend I worked with joined a popular weight loss system that required the dieter to weigh in with them every day. The ladies room at work had a doctor’s scale for everyone to use. Every afternoon before we left for the day, I’d see her hovering at the scale, stripping off shoes, glasses, jewelry, etc.  And I’m pretty sure she didn’t wear underwear on days she feared a weight gain. Sound crazy? We’ve all been there.
            My significant other weighs himself every morning after he showers. Now, while I’m certain he doesn’t agonize over his weight like I do, he complains of gaining as much as twenty-five pounds from time to time. (Unfortunately we share a passion for recreational eating.) His solution is to go on an all protein diet for a few weeks. And, like most men, he can drop the weight like a hot rock. It isn’t fair.
Today’s most popular weight loss plans require a weekly weigh in. If you are on one of them, let that weekly weigh-in tell the story and don’t weep over the scale every morning leading up to weigh-in day—it’s not worth it. Follow the plan and the pounds will come off when your body is ready to let them go.
Break the daily weigh in habit.
1.    Put the scale in a closet!
2.    Use it once a week at the very most.
3.    Weigh the same day every week and same time of day. And unless you weigh nude, wear the same clothes.
4.    Better yet, if you aren’t on program where you must weigh in weekly, weigh monthly. Your jeans will tell you when you’re overdoing things!

Dear readers,
As you all know, my goal is to drop 22 pounds in 2012. To help me  achieve this goal, I’ve joined TOPS. Counting calories is how I lose weight, and to lose slowly, I limit my calorie intake accordingly. This enables me to fit in the things I can’t give up. My TOPS meetings are weekly, and I’ve learned not to weigh myself in between or even the morning of the meeting. Doing so leads to madness such as taking diuretics, laxatives, starving the day before and, yes, going to a meeting without underwear!
So far, I’m down a pound and a half. Not a lot, but I focus on the long-range goal and will be happy with a loss of 2lbs a month. 
Every journey begins with a small step.
Thanks for following me on my journey,