Category Archives: Writing

Why Some Criticism Hurts More Than Others

Last week, due to me misreading one of my Amazon reports, I took a quick peek on the German page of my “Love-Based Copywriting Method” book. And I discovered I actually had a review there. (In English, so yes I could read it.)IMG_0669

It was a one-star review and suffice to say the person REALLY didn’t like it. To the point of being a bit mean-spirited.

Which got me thinking — what is it about my Love-Based Copy Method book that triggers all these mean reviews?

It’s not like I don’t have other bad reviews on my books. But for some reason, this first book in the series seems to be the most triggering.

Then, I got more curious — because there was another similar thread with the bad reviews for the first Love-Based Copy book. Continue reading

Want to read the first chapter of “The Stolen Twin?”

Chapter 1

My life has been dominated by two dreams.Print

In the first, I see my twin sister Cat at seven, the last time I ever saw her. She is all pink and golden – hair hanging in yellow ringlets, dancing blue eyes, rosy cheeks. She is beautiful, my sister. Light, sweet, charming. My opposite.

My father is pulling her as she sits in a little red wagon, laughing and waving. They’re in a wild, grassy field. Birds are twittering, crickets chirping. A butterfly flits by. Gently swaying grasses and colorful wildflowers brush against her, stroking her soft skin, loving her. She laughs and caresses their long, flowing stems.

But there is more in this field than plants, insects and birds. Fairies live here too – although they usually hide when people walk by with their heavy crushing footsteps, unnatural smells and callous voices. My father, plowing through with bent back and plodding footsteps, sends them cringing and scurrying away as well.

But then they hear the tinkling sound of my sister’s laughter. Continue reading

Are You Putting Your Dreams On Hold? (The story behind the story)

If you’d rather watch my video version of this story, just go here:Creativity_02

Back in 1998, I quit my job to become a fulltime freelance writer/copywriter.

At the time, there were no coaching, masterminding or mentoring programs that taught you how to set up and run a successful business (or, if there were, I didn’t know about them as the Internet was still in its infancy) so I went to the Small Business Association (SBA) and got myself a counselor.

When the counselor learned what my business plans were, he invited a retired freelance writer to come in and give me some tips.

Well, her “tips” turned out to be her trying to talk me out of becoming a freelance writer. For about 45 minutes, the conversation went something like this:

“Being a freelance writer is a really difficult way to earn a living.”

“Okay, what should I do?

“Can you get your job back?”

“No, I can’t get my job back.” Continue reading

Why It Took Me 10 Years to Publish My First Novel

Yes, you read that right.

I wrote “The Stolen Twin” over ten years ago. And it basically sat in a desk drawer until a few months ago when I pulled it out, dusted it off, and published it.

There are actually 2 business lessons you can take away from my story as to why it took me so long to publish my novel. (And I sincerely hope it doesn’t take you as long as it did me to birth your important work out into the world.)

(If you’d rather read the story, here’s the link.)

Enjoy!

Post-Mortem — Anatomy of a Successful Amazon Kindle Book Launch (“Love-Based Copywriting” Book) part 2 — What went wrong?

(You can check out Part 1 right here.)

So, while overall I’m pleased with how the book launch went, there’s no question launching a book on someone else’s platform (in this case Amazon) had its challenges. Here’s a quick summary of everything that went wrong:LoveBasedBook_03

* The way Amazon displays a free book is, well, confusing. You see the “$0” price and then you click “buy now” so you “buy” the book for zero dollars. That’s all well and good, but there’s another button that says “get this book for free” — which is actually their lending library. So you don’t actually buy it with that button, you’re borrowing it.

The problem is, if you aren’t currently an Amazon Prime member, you can’t borrow a Kindle book. Borrowing Kindle books is an Amazon Prime perk. So if you click the button to borrow it and you aren’t in Prime, you’re put into an upsell sequence to buy Prime.

And, when that happens, I get emails telling me “thanks for the ‘free’ book but it’s not really free.” Continue reading

Post-Mortem — Anatomy of a Successful Amazon Kindle Book Launch (“Love-Based Copywriting” Book) part 1

As you can probably imagine, this has been an absolutely crazy week with the launch of my new book “Love-Based Copywriting — How to Write Copy that Attracts, Inspires and Invites Your Ideal Prospects to Become Ideal Clients.”LoveBasedBook_03

Now that the dust has settled, I thought it would helpful to you, my community, to talk about what went right and what went wrong to help you if you yourself ever choose to do a book launch.

Now, there are 2 parts to a launch — the outer game (which is the actual book launch strategy) and the inner game (which is your mindset or what’s going on in your head during the launch). I’m going to talk more about the inner game in my two upcoming columns — The Writer’s Life and Life, Biz and the Pursuit of Happiness — and starting with this post, I’m going to cover the outer game strategies. (This post is the first of a series where I’ll break the book launch down.)

First off, why did I choose the Kindle platform on Amazon to launch my book? (Especially since I heard from A LOT of you who did not care at all for Amazon — I think some of you even went so far as to compare Amazon to the devil.) Continue reading

How to Grow Your Business as a Published Author… and Impact More Lives With Your Message

It’s time to ‘fess up — why AREN’T you writing that book you’re dreaming about?GuestBlogPost_02

If this is you, you are SO not alone — and Christine Kloser, the Transformational Book Coach (and also guest on PW Unplugged) guest-wrote this blog post to help dig into what’s holding you back and what you can do to start moving forward.

Enjoy!

by Christine Kloser

Have you dreamed of writing a book or becoming a successful published author?  Do you have a valuable message that — if put in print ––will help grow your business and transform more lives?  If you answered yes, but don’t have your book written yet … keep reading! Continue reading

3 Reasons Why You Should NOT Write a Book

If you’ve been knocking around the Internet for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve seen multiple articles and information highlighting all the reasons why you SHOULD write a book. (And yes, my PW Unplugged Radio with Christine Kloser is all about why writing a book is an excellent marketing tactic if you want to hear the positive.)


BUT, writing a book isn’t for everyone. And I thought I would take a moment and give you 3 reason why writing a book m

ight not be such a smart idea for you, and why you maybe should turn your marketing attention elsewhere.

Ready? Let’s dig right in: Continue reading

The Writing Life — The “Excuse” of Being Sick

This week I’ve been dealing with a nasty head cold. Stuffy nose, sinus pressure, scratchy throat, feeling drained and exhausted.

And, of course, THIS was the week I was going to really dig into my book writing. (Or so I was telling myself.)

And, of course, being sick gave me a perfect excuse to NOT dig into my book writing, since I was moving slow as it was (not to mention having to take breaks) and had to focus on my to-do list.

And THAT, my friends, seems to be a nasty habit of mine when it comes to getting my own books out into the world.

Now, while it’s true I have finished several books already, and deep down inside I know I’m in the right place to get more books done in 2014, I’m still rather disappointed with myself that one of my old, not-serving-me habits has reared its ugly head this week.

Procrastination is one of my major bad habits when it comes to my own writing. And being able to rationalize my bad habit with a great excuse like “I’m sick” always works out wonderfully for me. What a perfect reason to NOT write!

On the other hand, I really AM sick. So what do you do? I also want to honor what my body is telling me. And it feels like my body is telling me to take it easy — I’ve been running at full speed since this year has started, so as excited and full of energy as I’ve been, maybe getting sick is my body’s way of telling me to pace myself. I mean I’ve started writing a lot more on my blog (including starting this new column) plus I got my podcast going plus I’ve been swamped with client work. And while it’s been awesome to have gotten all of this done, it IS only January — we DO have 11 months left of 2014 so maybe I don’t need to be moving quite as fast.

And when I get quiet, that feels like the truth and it feels like that’s what my inner wisdom is telling me.

But I also can’t quite shake the disappointment I’m feeling with myself either.

3 Little-Known Biz Benefits to Writing & Publishing a Book

There’s a lot of excellent reasons to take the time to write and a publish book. Having authored a book gives you instant credibility as an expert, which immediately sets you apart from everyone else in your field, helps fill your pipeline with perfect clients and gives you a reason to raise your rates. Plus books make great giveaways and client gifts, which is another fabulous way to use them.

But there are also a few other reasons to author a book you may not have thought of. Here are 3 to keep in mind as you decide if it’s time to get that book written in between everything else on that to-do list:

Book readers tend to be better clients. Even though you’re probably not going to get rich selling a $15 book, the people who take the time to read your book will be more likely to buy your other products and programs AND spend more money overall with you (either by buying multiple programs or just investing in the higher-priced programs). So if you have a good backend set up (and what I mean by that is if you have other products or programs to sell them) writing a book is the perfect way to position yourself and your ideal client to get them into your sales funnel.

Kindle rocks! Okay this may not be so little-known anymore, but the reality is with all the options out there with Kindle and ebooks in general, you have more ways to get your books into your ideal clients hands than ever before and if you position a lead generating opt in correctly inside your book (and what I mean by that is offering more free resources if they go to a page on your website and enter their name and email address to get the download) you’re going to have a way to capture leads from folks who are truly interested in taking what you teach to a deeper level (which of course will lead to more sales).

Something else to consider — as an author you’ll have a presence on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, which in some cases is better than a presence on Google. Think about it — if someone is searching for resources on Google, they’re probably looking for something free. If they’re searching for resources on Amazon then they’re looking for something to buy — which means those are the buyers, not the looky loos.

What about your ideal clients who aren’t book readers? Well you can also turn your book into an audio book, which means you’ll reach another segment of your ideal clients. Now if they really aren’t book readers (or book listeners) at all, just the sheer fact you’ve written a book will still add to your credibility and expert status with them.

And a bonus tip — for many entrepreneurs, one of the big reasons why you went into business for yourself in the first place was because you wanted to make a difference in the world. What better way to spread your message and get your gifts out there is by writing and publishing a book? Think about your book as a little messenger — spreading your message and transformation everywhere it goes. Now isn’t THAT a great reason to finally sit down and finish that book?

Writer’s Block Begone

Back when I was in college, I belonged to one of those professional associations for the video industry. (I was a student member.) The monthly newsletter had a column called “Writer’s Block.” Although called Writer’s Block, no one ever wrote about this mysterious and debilitating condition. So, finally, one day I decided to tackle the subject.

I don’t remember much about the article except it seemed to be about eating chocolate, taking walks and not doing much writing (it was supposed to be tongue in cheek). I don’t think it turned out as successful as I had hoped.

Anyway, my point is this — while I still eat lots of chocolate and take lots of walks, I’ve also been forced to wrestle with that particular nightmare many a time. And in those wrestling matches, I’ve learned a few moves that might help you in your own struggles.

First, I’ve come to view writer’s block as a friend more than an enemy. Okay, maybe friend is too strong. An ally. (Okay, maybe he’s a really mean ally, but an ally all the same.)

Writer’s block isn’t about the writing. Writer’s block isn’t telling you you can’t write or you’ll never write again or you’ll never have another idea again. Writer’s block is telling you something else is wrong, and you need to deal with that something before you can get down to the business of writing.

Now, when I say writer’s block, what I’m talking about is the inability to write. You have no idea where to start, no idea where the project is going, or maybe you have no ideas at all. That’s true writer’s block, not to be confused with writer’s procrastination. Writer’s procrastination is when you know what you want to be writing (or should be writing) yet you’ve somehow lost the ability to sit in a chair and type. Oh, but you can still check e-mail. And surf the Web. And lots of other tasks that have nothing to do with the writing project you should be doing. But try and start that project — you’ll just fall right off that chair.

I’ve had more than my share of encounters with that particular fellow as well, and I’m planning to share tips on beating writer’s procrastination in future issues. (Trust me, you need to beat writer’s procrastination. He is the enemy and he’s evil.)

But writer’s block is different. Writer’s block says there’s a problem. Writer’s block says you haven’t researched this project enough or you haven’t thought this through enough or you’re missing crucial information. Maybe your approach is all wrong. Maybe you should be writing a Web site and not a brochure for your business. Maybe you’re trying to force a book-sized idea into an article-sized container and it just doesn’t fit.

If your ideas have suddenly dried up, maybe writer’s block is telling you to take it easy. You’ve been working too hard — you need to take time and recharge your creative batteries. Or maybe you haven’t dealt with some old hurt or anger and you need to take some time and deal with that block.

Writer’s block also might be telling you the project is all wrong for you. (Although be careful with the last one — writer’s procrastination is a wonderful mimic and he might be trying to slip something past you.)

When I’m stuck, the first thing I do is get away from the computer. I take a walk, jump in the shower (I get a lot of great ideas in the shower) or eat some chocolate. (Some things never change.) I think about the project. I review my notes. I analyze what I’m doing. And I ask myself questions. Do I have all the information I need? Should I do more research? Is my approach right? Have I thought this project through enough?

Sometimes I can spot the problem in a few minutes. Sometimes it takes a few days. But always, without fail, I’ve discovered writer’s block was right. There WAS a serious problem with the project. A fatal flaw in the foundation — a weakness in the structure. Eventually, it would have collapsed.

And by stepping in, your writer’s block stopped that from happening.

Exercise — Make friends with writer’s block

I realize this might be a scary exercise for some of you, especially if you’re in the throes of writer’s block (and I’ve been there — I know how terrifying it is) but that’s all the more reason to do this.

Now, when I say make friends with your writer’s block, I’m not talking about inviting it to move in and existing in a permanent blocked state. What I’m talking about is a way to put writer’s block in its rightful place — where it uses its talents to help and not harm you.

Take a few moments and thank your writer’s block. Thank it for all the times it blocked you. Tell it you know it was trying to help you and you appreciate it.

Whatever you do, DON’T fear your writer’s block. You give it too much power if you fear it. Power corrupts. You don’t want to corrupt your writer’s block, you want it to do its job — helping you craft the best writing pieces you can.

If you’re in the middle of a bad case of writer’s block, try asking your writer’s block what the problem is. Why won’t it let you start that project or what happened to your ideas?
Do it as a journaling exercise or a meditation. You may be amazed at what it tells you.

3 tips to improve your writing rhythm

As a professional copywriter, not only do I do a lot of writing but I also look at a lot of writing. One of the things I’ve noticed that set the good/great writers from the so-so is rhythm.

What I mean by rhythm is how the writing sounds. The rhythm of the words and sentences. It’s a subtle aspect of writing, one not normally talked about, but that doesn’t lessen its importance.

Unfortunately, rhythm is also tough to teach (which is probably why it isn’t talked about very much). It’s something felt deep inside, like it is with music. It isn’t as straight forward as pointing out a grammar error. What makes it tougher is that everyone has his/her own style and own unique rhythm. However, these three tips should get you started thinking about your own writing rhythm and how to improve it.

1. Watch out for long sentences. In fact, you might want to consider avoiding them altogether.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with long sentences. And there are times where longer sentences are necessary (see next tip — but note I said longer and not long). The problem is that long sentences have a tendency to turn into flabby sentences.

Think of a sentence as an eel. The longer it gets, the more slippery and elusive it becomes. Long sentences are sentences just waiting to slither far away and completely out of your control.

So what’s going on with long sentences? One problem is they’re tiring to read. By the time readers reach the end of a long sentence, they’ve most likely forgotten the subject/verb/point of the sentence. And they’re probably too tired or too lazy or too busy to go back to the beginning of the sentence and sort the whole thing out.

Another problem is long sentences lack punctuation. Punctuation is a big part of rhythm. The start and stop of a period. The bated breath of an em-dash. Think of punctuation as your percussion section.

But when you write a long sentence, all you have to work with is the quiet sigh of the unobtrusive comma. Yes, they have their place. But it’s a subtler instrument. (Think triangle rather than kettledrum.)

A good rule of thumb is to make sure a single sentence doesn’t go over 30 words. If it does, strongly consider breaking it in two. Or three.

2. Vary sentence length. In music, a steady beat is usually a good thing. In writing, it’s considered one of the deadly sins. (Okay, not really. But it still isn’t good writing.)

If every sentence is the same length, your writing is going to get pretty dull pretty quick. You need short sentences, longer sentences (but not too long) medium length sentences and very short sentences.

How do you know if your sentences are all the same? Does your piece sound monotonous? Are you getting a sing-song voice in your head when you read it? Better take a closer look at those sentence lengths. They’re probably all pretty close to being the same.

3. Sentence fragments are a good thing. Forget your fourth-grade English teacher. Forget that obnoxious green line in Microsoft Word telling you your grammar is wrong. In copywriting, as well as in many other forms of writing, sentence fragments are a lifesaver. Those fragments allow you to quickly and easily vary your sentence length. Plus, they can help your writing sound conversational. People talk in sentence fragments. Therefore, reading sentence fragments gives people the impression you’re talking to them — in your own voice and your own style.

So what’s a sentence fragment? A sentence that isn’t complete. It’s missing something — noun, verb, both. It’s not a complete sentence.

Rhythm in writing is much more than just what’s going on with your sentences. (Not that we’ve covered everything that goes wrong with sentences.) But it’s a good place to start.

Writing Exercises — Get in touch with your writing rhythm

Hearing things out loud is a good way to start getting in touch with your writing rhythm. You may have heard of this technique to find mistakes — and yes, it’s a good way to discover errors. But, this is also an excellent way to start getting to know your own unique rhythm.

Start by reading your own work out loud. If you’ve never done this before, try not to be too hard on yourself. Chances are you’re going to discover all sorts of problems — including too long sentences and paragraphs where all the sentences are the same length. Make a note of what needs fixing.

Once you fix it, read it out loud again. Then read it the original way. Listen to the difference. Even better, try to feel the difference — deep inside, in your gut. Our gut is an excellent rhythm sensor.

You should also read out loud things you haven’t written. And read a variety of things — plays, novels, direct mail pieces, newspaper articles, Web sites, poems. Read bad writing and read writing that’s so beautiful your knees buckle. Listen to the rhythm while you’re reading. How does it make you feel? More importantly, how does it make your gut feel? Your gut will never lie to you — learn to trust it.

5 Ways to Add Your Personality to Your Writing

One of the fastest ways to transform your web site and promotional materials into a client magnet is to add your personality.

(And yes, even if you’re trying to build a business bigger then you personally, you still want to add your personality. People want to do business with people, not faceless, nameless corporations.)

Now, there are a few ways to do this, including branding and graphics, but what I’m going to focus on in this article is how to do it through words. Remember, the stronger your personality shows in your writing, the more loyal your customers and clients will be, and the more mo^ney you’ll ultimately make.

So, here are 5 ways to add your personality to your writing:

1. Read more. The more you read, the more you’ll learn how to express yourself in writing. Not only will you learn by example (especially if you read things by writers with very strong personalities) but you’ll start to absorb ways to express yourself using words that you’ll be able to transfer to your own writing.

2. Write more. Sorry, there’s no getting around it. The more you do something, the better you’ll get at it, (and yes that includes writing). Start a blog, write articles for your web site, write letters to your friends, it doesn’t matter what it is but just start writing.

3. Keep a journal. I know this sounds like more writing (and technically it is) but it’s a different kind of writing. It’s more like exercising (okay, maybe that’s not a great analogy either). Basically, journaling works because it gives your muse a way to “come out and play.” And the more you can access your muse, the easier it will be to bring your personality out while you’re writing.

When I say journal, what I mean is get out a pen and paper and start writing. Yes, I want you writing by hand. No computers. Something magical happens when you write by hand versus type. And just write about anything that comes up. (Nothing comes up? Write “I have nothing to say” until you find you DO have something to say.) Do this regularly and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it gets to bring your personality into your writing.

4. Read out loud. This is a trick actors do. They read things out loud and listen to their breathing, their phrasing, etc. This is a great way to find your actual “voice” which you then can transfer to writing.

You don’t have to read things you’ve written either. Read novels and nonfiction and articles and anything that strikes your fancy. And really listen to how you say it. Everyone reads things differently because you put your own personality into it, and that can translate into your writing.

5. Write in other people’s voice. This is a trick artists do. When they learn to paint, they paint in the style of other great artists. By studying how other people paint, you’ll pick up some of their techniques. You incorporate what works in your style and abandon what doesn’t. And by studying other people’s styles, you’ll start to be able to break down your own style, and thus you’ll understand how to strengthen it.

You can use this for your writing. Here’s how you do it: First, choose a writer whose style you resonate with. Next, copy a passage they wrote word for word. You might want to do it a few times. Then write something original, but do it in their style. Keep practicing until writing in their style becomes second nature.

But, this should strictly be an exercise. Don’t try and copy other people’s writing styles and pass them off as your own. Not only will it come across as inauthentic and more likely turn off your target market, but depending on what you do, you could end up in legal trouble.

Even if you only incorporate a few of these tips, you should start to see a shift in your own writing. Before you know it, your personality will be shining through, and with it, you’ll start to see more clients, more sales and more profits.

How to Write Headlines that Get Read

Headlines are the most important part of a print ad.

In fact, David Ogilvy, famous ad man and author of Confessions of an Advertising Man, has said that four out of five people only read headlines. Nothing more.

And if people DO choose to read the rest of the ad, they make that decision based on the headline.

That’s a big job to put on the shoulders for what amounts to a few words.

But before you start despairing over your headline-writing skills, take heart. There are several “headline types” that have proven to sell products and services over and over again. Below are four of the most powerful and the easiest to implement. Continue reading

5 Tips for Writing Articles That Sell

I want to share my secret for attracting tons of traffic, leads and customers to my site.

Ready? It’s writing and submitting articles online.

I can hear all the protesting already. But it’s easy for you, you’re a writer, that’s what you do, etc.

Now there is some truth to that — I am writer so writing articles does come easy for me. However, I also make my living as a writer. That means I do an awful lot of writing each and every day. Trust me — I know all about procrastination when it comes time to writing articles for myself.

But since writing articles is such a powerful method of self-promotion, I’ve taken the time to figure out a few shortcuts. This makes the process less painful so I do get them written on a regular basis. I’m sharing five to help get you started. Continue reading