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Nimoy’s Last Tweet

Bookshelf Battle

Inspiring to the end, the final tweet of Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played Mr. Spock on Star Trek:

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Never Give Up, Never Surrender

Disney

Just a little shout out to keep moving forward!

Personal Branding… Is it important?

Yes. I would say that personal branding is pretty important.

Think of a brand of product that you like. Now think about the details that go into selling it. There are logos, commercials, thematic colors, and descriptive phrases that go into making that product attractive to buy.

Personal brands are less complicated and expensive to make, but their goal is worth every ounce of time and effort put into making it. Essentially, the goal is to advertise your best and most unique qualities. Personal brands are meant to make you stand out from the crowd.

What I love about the specific college that I’m in is that they really shove personal branding down your throat–whether you want to learn about it or not. This is part of the reason the hiring rate is so great, and why so many of us have jobs before we graduate.

However, personal branding can be beneficial for more than just a job search.

Namely, prospective authors looking to gain a following can greatly benefit from developing a personal brand. In fact, a lot of successful authors already take advantage of this, whether it’s intentional or a coincidence.

A great example is Ava Dellaira’s website, which you can take a look at here. Her website doesn’t involve a blog portion, but it most certainly brands her as a successful writer.

So that begs the question, what goes into a personal brand?

Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) is a champ at walking people through developing personal brands. In fact, I based my entire resume and interviewing strategy off of their advice.

They stress that in the job world, there are so many people vying for the same position that you need more than just good credentials. The same can be said for aspiring authors. You need more than just talent and a good story. You need to be able to sell yourself and stand out from the crowd.

Now the hard part… Thinking of what makes you stand out.

The starting points that PWC recommends thinking about are (I’ve adapted them to be relevant to writers):

  • What are your unique skills and personality traits? How can you see that through your writing?
  • What drives you to seek the goal of being a published author? In other words, why write when you can just pursue an easier career? What do you have to say to the world? Why does the world need to hear your message?
  • If you had to boil it down to one or two words, what do you want people to think when they look at you and your work?
  • What in particular would make agents and readers choose your work over others?

It’s alright if you can’t answer these questions right away. Part of the journey of developing a personal brand involves discovering what makes you stand out. Take some time to really analyze you and your work. Ask your friends and family what they think makes you stand out. If you’re really struggling, walk through PWC’s process. The website is directed towards college students, but you can modify it to apply to your writing career. The end result will be the same; you’ll discover what makes you you.

Be critical. Be honest.

Then, once you have developed what the attributes are of your personal brand, it’s time to learn how to craft it and apply it.

We will walk through this process together next time!

Photo credit: Brand You. Another great article about personal brands!

Congratulations!

This is a shout out to John Berkowitz. Congratulations for being featured on WriterPitch! Check out his story here.

Infographically Explained: Should You Self-Publish or Go Traditional?

Great way to sum up the decision! I know a few of you are going through this debate right now…

Publishing Insights

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The Write Life publishes an infographic to help authors decide whether they should pursue self-publishing or follow the path of traditional publishing.

In a discussion of this infographic, Mutterings of a Fantasy Writer refers to July 2014 Author Earnings Report which reports some statistics about “emerging trends in the world of digital publishing”

One thing that I’ve wanted to point out is that I think there is a general misconception with traditional and self publishers about “getting the book out there.” There is no “out there.” There is only “who is for” and “how is the author cultivating and adding value for readers.” People read and share information based on trust in relationships, and we should bear that in mind when we write/publish a book.

Image Credit: The Write Life

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6 Steps for Measuring Success on UX Projects

UX Refresh

— By MARK DISCIULLO 

The tepid economy is putting pressure on everyone from executives to User Experience (UX) teams to show direct, measurable results. So, I’m often surprised to hear of the many projects that include a UX component to them, yet there isn’t any true, quantifiable success criteria defined for UX. Even more rare, are efforts to baseline the current design experience of an interface or product prior to a relaunch so any newly “defined” success criteria has some context. This is critical information to know so you can quantify whether or not your new designs have truly made improvements compared to past designs. Anything that is done as an organization should have justification – otherwise, why do it?

Measuring the User Experience

UX is still being treated as though it’s a very subjective topic to measure. It’s unfortunate that in many cases, success is simply summed up with statements such as “it’s now easier to…

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If Only There Was a “Dating Service” for Writer/Agent Matchups…

Really great approach to querying! Definitely worth looking at for those of you sending out queries.

Am I Doing This Right?

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I haven’t really posted much about actual writing lately because I have spent the last month or so in query hell, and the last two weeks in the twitterverse. And I THINK it is going to have been uber-productive for me. I wrote a couple of blog posts* about it, but there’s a new thing I wanted to share with my brother and sister writers. This is HUGE.

Fellow writer Samantha Fountain started #AgentMatch, which is a twitter contest (like many others) where writers with complete manuscripts can submit a pitch and the top 50 orso are selected by a team of editors and writers and posted online by genre or category, and agents can then look at these vetted pitches and request partials or full manuscripts from the authors. Many writers have gotten representation this way.

When I started looking into the writer/query community on Twitter, I had…

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Self-Published Book Contest

Hi all! If you self published a book, think about entering the Writer’s Digest contest! Enter here.

The Ill Fated Sky Lantern

Ill Fated Lantern

I make it a habit to try to be as creative as possible for gift giving occasions. I consider it a personal failure if I get someone a serious, practical gift. This year for Christmas, I pulled out all of the stops and hit up online sites for personalized gifts.

For my family as a whole, I decided on trying something I had seen on television. What better way to spend a Christmas night than lighting sky lanterns as a family? Well a family, plus my SO. He doesn’t really count as family.

In my mind, I imagined all of us just lighting the flame, launching all six simultaneously. I imagined my niece being able to hold one, and us helping her let it go. Personally, I was going to make a wish on mine. The sky lantern was going to signify my coming year. Some big changes were approaching–college graduation, and the full time job hunt.

Let’s just say that sky lanterns are not as easy to light and launch as movies and TV shows make them seem. They’re pretty sizable, and it was at least a two man job to get the light started and inflate the lantern.

lanternMy father launched his first, followed by my sister-in-law, and SO. All three did so easily, and I have to say that the lanterns were worth every penny. Even though we couldn’t launch them as syncronized as I’d imagined, they were really beautiful to watch.

Then it was my turn. In that lantern, I put all of my expectations for the year to come, expecting it to fly away as gracefully as the other lanterns.

That sky lantern couldn’t wait to flop back unceremoniously onto the ground. We tried tossing it, gently gliding it, barely pushing it, and each time the lantern promptly crashed into the ground.

lantern1See? There went all of my hopes and dreams.

We finally stomped out that lantern. Could I take the hint from the universe? No, of course not. After my brother successfully launched his lantern, I decided to try again.

At this point in time, most of my family had gone back inside the house because of the chilly weather.

Like the lantern I had before, this one just didn’t want to leave the ground. By the time it flopped back down, we just threw it into the air.

Finally, finally, this lantern decided to glide. Only, it wasn’t high enough in the air. It glided straight into my neighbor’s tree. It was a mad scramble as my dad and brother sprinted to see if there was any way to get the lantern down, but it was towards the top of the tree and hopelessly out of reach. In my hurry to get down to the tree, I tripped down the brick steps leading to that section of the lawn.

We could only wait, watch, and madly hope that it didn’t catch the tree on fire, and that the neighbors weren’t looking out the window at that particular moment. After a few agonizing minutes, the lantern fizzled out, and slipped through the branches, onto the ground.

I couldn’t help but laugh about the irony of the whole situation. Of course. Of course my hopes-and-dreams sky lantern would crash and burn into a tree. That’s a great indicator of the coming year.

Seeing as its February, and my year seems to be going well so far, I’m guessing the universe didn’t take my sky lantern prediction too seriously.

Thank goodness.

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