Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Kindle Publishing Journey Update #1

How To Achieve Goals You Set For Yourself, One Task At A Time

In late April I began this blog as an experiment.

An experiment to document how to start something important, something of value.  Maybe nothing of any worth to someone else, but something of incredible value to me.

It was about starting something, my kindle publishing journey, and seeing it through in a public medium - this blog.

So what's in it for you? 




To Achieve Goals You Need To Set Goals


My experiment was to see if I can get some readers to share in the journey of taking a risk, in this case self-publishing some short stories through Kindle Publishing.

It was about becoming vulnerable and naked.

My thoughts, my words out in the world to be poked and prodded, judged by anyone that wanted to judge it.

And this blog was started with the idea that if I could do it, anyone could do it.

Maybe not write stories and publish, but maybe write a business ebook, play with acrylics and start painting, or perhaps take a guitar and strum a song.

Not to be famous, not to become rich, but just to do it.

And if there was interest in monetizing your art, then perhaps this blog could help you find your way.

Just like I did.

A Man With(out) A Plan -Kinda, Sorta




Truth be told, my whole approach was what I like to call "The Spaghetti Solution".

Throw things at the wall and see what sticks. In other words, I would try a number of different techniques and see what creates any kind of traction.

We all know that a plan can help you get where you want to get to faster, but what if you're unsure where it is that you're trying to go?

How do you plan for the frontier?

Columbus sailed for India when he crashed into North America. It wasn't even on his map.

So this blog was started with an idea, getting stories written and published, but the how and where it was going was the unknown.

And I wanted to share my discoveries with you, the reader.

But that would presume that somebody would read it.

Does Anybody See This Blog?  


What if you wrote something and nobody read it?  What if everyone hated it? 

It's been said that you can't please anyone if you're trying to please everyone. 

The only way to be sure it had the chance to be read is to publish it.

Write it.  Then rewrite and edit it.  Format it, find cover art and publish it.

That was my going to be my process and I'd figure out the rest of it as I went forward.

As I mentioned earlier, I began this blog to detail my experience with taking short stories and self-publishing them on Amazon's Kindle program with the idea to inspire myself and anyone else reading to create a path and follow through.

In other words, I wanted to detail my experiences, offer some tips for anyone reading the blog (is anyone reading?)  and to document my experiences in real time.

All with the concept that if I could do it, so could you.

Now That My Story "The Ballad Of John Walker" Is Available On Kindle Publishing, What's Next? 


This experiment of mine isn't finished.

I published one story with the idea of publishing a few more.

A slow drip, drip, drip of stories to be released over the course of the summer and beyond.

The Ballad of John Walker was just the beginning.  (Click the link and download your copy now!)

In the week and a half that the story was published, it's been downloaded a few times.  Lots of clicks - upward of 200 clicks at about 9% conversions.

Not great stats obviously. But better than if I never put it out.

My next story should be out sometime around the 4th of July.  Maybe before, perhaps just afterward and I'll try to create a cross-promotion for it, and document how it does.

Whether you're a writer, an artist, musician or looking to start your own business, get off your ass and do something.

Joe Strummer of The Clash used to say that the future is unwritten.

So sit your ass down and write it the way you want.


What are some of your goals?  What plans do you have in place to see them happen?  Leave a comment! 




Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Ballad Of John Walker Is Out Now By Kindle Publishing

Kindle Publishing and The Ballad of John Walker: Available Now! 

The hardest step to take in any journey is the first one.

Once you take a step, the momentum to take a second one is easier.

Kindle publishing tips


If you're in business, finding the first client is often the hardest.  The momentum from that first one helps you move toward the second. With each client, you're motivation to find the next one increases and it eventually gains traction.

The Ballad of John Walker: A Short Story

You see this in sports all the time.  A shooter hits a shot, they become more aggressive in their next shot. A runner strides over the starting line and the second, third and consecutive steps are easier.

The hardest part then is in gaining inertia, finding momentum.

And you can't have momentum without taking the first step.

Don't Worry About The Future, It's Never Here


True, there will be obstacles in the way, some seen and others unseen.

How you handle the hurdle is what differentiates those who run the race and those who just think about it.

It's said that a problem is only 10% what it presents itself to be and 90% how you handle it.

If you wait until you have enough money saved, or you have one more year of experience, you'll find you're always chasing something you can never catch.

Tomorrow.

There's always something else you can learn, study, more money to save.

So when's enough to get started?

I don't know the first thing about how to market an ebook.  But I've read about some strategies and so I developed a plan.

It may work.

Or I may fall on my face.

But the only way I'll find out is by launching it and doing the follow through I have in mind.  I'm sure it won't work as I picture it, but that's how we learn.

By trying something, failing and learning.

Experience is the best teacher.

Announcing My First Kindle Publishing Story: The Ballad Of John Walker


My new short story is available NOW on Kindle as an ebook.

The Ballad of John Walker is $0.99 as an ebook and you can get it by clicking here:





I'd really appreciate the download and leave an honest review.  It helps with the visibility of the story, especially as I begin to add more to the library.

Don't Have A Kindle?  No Worries...


You can download the kindle reader app for your PC, laptop, and smartphone here:

Kindle Reader App

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Kindle Publishing Tip: How To Conquer Overthinking And Become More Productive

Ready, Set, Wait...?





You've developed an idea and created a plan.

It's not perfect, and not airtight but a plan none-the-less.

There's a definite beginning, somewhat of a middle, and a hoped for, predicted end.

But you can't sit down and get the first word written. Or make the first pitch or sale's call.

You're frozen.  But why?

We're innately born to avoid risk.  It's a survival instinct and one that we are ingrained to abide.

Whether you're trying to build a clientele, promote your services or use a platform like kindle publishing for your self-publishing goals, the most important step to take is the first one.

Let me say that again.


The most important step to take is the first one

Without taking the first step, action is impossible and you won't be able to meet your productivity or kindle publishing goals.

Analysis by Paralysis


Too often we're risk adverse and try to wait until we have all the answers and every solution figured out before we proceed.

You can spend hours, days, weeks, months and even years waiting to know it all.  And guess what?

You never will.

There's always something to learn, to tweak, to optimize.

The more you analyze all the factors and wait to act, the further you are from achieving your goals.

The guys at Self-Publishing Podcast are great at being distracting, but also offers tons of advice that can apply not just to writing, but productivity as well.

Sean Platt partners with David Wright and Johnny B. Truant, and on the podcast Sean likes to say that when it comes to writing "perfect is the enemy of done".

If you think about it, that's perfect advice for everyone. You don't need to make something perfect before you launch it, design it or promote it.

To get started, make a plan and take that first step.  You can change course once you begin.

See where the path takes you.  Evaluate where you are and then decide if you're on the right path.

But you'll never get where you want to go without that first step.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

3 Tips To Help You Stop Failing And Find The Success You Deserve

Why You Suck And Will Fail Every Time 

Goal Setting Is A Process Toward Success, But First Slay Your Dragon Of Distraction 


Whether you're looking to run a marathon, write a book and publish it traditionally or through resources like Kindle Publishing, or simply improve performance, it's important to get rid of distractions.

It takes conscious, sustained effort to the finish line.  Like a runner, one foot in front of the other is the surest path to get there.  But if you don't have a plan to where you're going, the one foot strategy will just get you lost.

It's easy to get lost in the world today.

From Facebook and Twitter, to smartphones that you can watch Netflix on as well as check email, it's really easy to get distracted.

Learn how to prioritize your time and your responsibilities to get the most out of your day! 

Conquer Your Dragon Of Distraction

Distractions can consume your most precious commodity - time - if you don't know how to conquer it.

Like a dragon, the imaginary reptile that would horde riches and defend them against all challenges, distractions can overwhelm you before you know it. It will steal your time and destroy your dreams.

Like any major obstacle, the key is get the task down to manageable size.  You can't eat a pizza in one bite, so why do you think a major task can be done in one sitting?

It also gets WAY more difficult when you allow distractions to enter into the picture.

We all know how easy it is to turn on the TV, check Facebook, email or other ways to fall down the rabbit hole of doing everything but what you need to do.

Why do you think horse trainers put blinders on their horses?

It's too easy to get distracted.

So conquer your dragon of distraction by creating a plan, get more focused and you'll meet your goals.



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You've Slain The Dragon Now Improve Your Productivity Even More


Before we discuss the tips to help you improve upon your productivity, and move you closer to your successes, we need to define a couple things first.


  • Goals are the designated finish lines for your work. They're the end point for what you want to accomplish.  They are the outcomes of necessary steps to get to the finish line. 
and
  • Process is planned action. It's the necessary steps taken to move toward your goal - it's the foundation that builds the path toward success or failure.
finally,

  • Success is the outcome of proper practice - it's the tangible reward for well-planned hard work. 


Now that we've established the groundwork needed, the key to meeting your goals and finding success, you need to have a detailed plan.  

The 3 Best Tips To Improve Productivity To Meet Your Goals And Find Your Success

1) Have A To-Do List: 


Think about everything you need to accomplish and everything you'd like to get done for the day.

Next make a list of tasks you need to accomplish makes it easy to stay on track.  You can use a piece of paper - I know, a little old school, but create two columns. In one column place your most important items to accomplish, and put everything else in the other column. 
Having a list allows you to check off the important things, gives you a sense of completion and allows you to see what you started your day with and what you finished.  

2) Keep Your List To The Rule Of Three: 


In a recent post at the blog Paid To Exist, Jonathan Mead wrote about how to maximize your day by creating to-do lists but emphasized that you need to keep it to a manageable limit - his suggestion?  

The list should abide by the Rule of Three.  

Simply, make your list, keep it small and check off what you finished. Depending on the specific tasks, three items a day can be much easier to accomplish than worrying about everything you need to get done. 

3) Wear Blinders, Then Allow Yourself Distractions


You have your list and you've limited it to the rule of three.

Finally you need to wear blinders.  And allow yourself to be distracted. What?

It's true you need to put away potential distractions in order to get the work done.  It could be blinders from social media, TV, whatever, but you need to block out anything that gets in the way of your progress.

Look, we all get distracted. It's natural.  We only have a finite amount of willpower to conduct disciplined tasks, the kind of tasks that "the process" requires.

At the final drive of the Superbowl XXIII, Joe Montana famously is said to have looked up into the crowd during a TV timeout, saying to teammates, "Hey, isn't that John Candy?"

At that exact time, he was distracted - some say he was unaffected from the pressure of the moment, but he was distracted.

But once the ball snapped, he was able to block out all the distractions, driving the team to a touchdown and winning the game.

Had Joe Montana been distracted a play or two later, the game could've ended much, much differently.

But when the time to be focused was there, Joe Montana blocked out the distractions and exceeded his preparation.

So put blinders on and focus. It doesn't have to be for long periods of time.

Joe Montana is the essence of the Pomodoro Technique.

He was focused when it mattered and allowed himself to be distracted and relaxed between periods of focus.

Finally - Don't Worry About Failure: 


Easier said than done, obviously.

We all worry about doing something and falling on our face, of standing out from the crowd, of failing and being laughed at and shunned.

It's so high school, but we all share in the fear of falling on our face.  But why? 

Because we're social animals and on an intuitive level we know that being shunned by the community could have been deadly.

Luckily we don't live in caves with wild, feral predators stalking our every move.  We can agree that society may have some problems, but we can also agree that living in one is a huge benefit over our ancestors.

It's nice to know that we don't have to fear being thrown out of the tribe and have to fend for ourselves.  

Now we just get laughed at.

When I say don't worry about failure, it's not that we can fail without repercussions.  But what are those repercussions?  If you're working a job, and your family depends on your income, fear of failure, of losing your job should be a concern but it shouldn't overwhelm you.  

Failure is often a great learning tool. It's reaching our limits, finding the edges to our capabilities that we learn what we're capable of.

The key to success is pushing your boundaries to their limits and that's how you'll find your limitations.

By knowing your limitations you can better operate within your capabilities, and you'll improve your productivity and eventually find the success you're looking for.

Slay the dragon of distraction, make a plan and set your goals, keep it simple and you'll find the journey of achieving success both enjoyable and easier to accomplish.

You'll stop sucking in no time. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Kindle Publishing For The ADD Crowd

Shiny Object Syndrome

How To Avoid Losing Out By Becoming Distracted


In the warm Atlantic, there's a fiercely aggressive predator fish known as the barracuda.  Long, snake-like with a huge row of teeth, the barracuda attack their prey quickly.

A little known legend is that barracuda are attracted to shiny metal objects.

Whether this is a wives tale or reality, the point is that a shiny attractive object gets the barracuda's attention.

Like those GIF's of kittens sitting around in a basket with their head's snapping to and fro with the rhythm of an unseen object offscreen, the barracuda are thought to ignore what they were up to at the moment and follow the new shiny object.


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Cute aren't they.  But distracting.

Did you already forget that this post is about staying focused?

We all fall prey to it. The key is not to let it drag you into the swamp.

Rescue Your Writing From The Dragon Of Distraction

video

I've fallen into the trap multiple times, including recently.

This post has taken over a week just to get to through the first draft.  Starts and stops and fits in between, like a tantrum-throwing kid, this post has evolved a number of times, in concept and in design.

Since my last post, I've chased around a number of solutions, tips and gimmicks from supposed gurus.

I'd bought a number of new books, watched TED talks and documentaries.  I'd subscribed to a number of blogs promising how to increase my productivity and my efficiency.

I'd begun taken two new online courses, all the while looking for more courses to take.

In other words, I was chasing the shiny new object.

I stopped working on short stories.

The daily process stopped.

My editing sat unedited. The stories sat, collecting dust as manuscripts, unworked and under developed.

What did I learn?

You have to stay focused on what's important.

Or allow all your time to get sucked away into things that don't matter for the task at hand.

Basically I forgot my own lessons.  I lost discipline.

Having learned how easily it is to get distracted, the biggest take away for me, is to just sit down and write.

You can't slay a dragon in one battle, or in one strike.  It takes time I imagine.

Run A Marathon In Less Than 2 Hours (or at least write about it)

Sunday the Rock 'n Roll Marathon was run in San Diego.

Don't worry, I didn't run it.  Oh, God no.

That would be bad news.  Not just for me, but for the actual runners around me.

The sweating, heart-pounding, achilles tearing disaster that my plodding knee exploding herky-jerky strain of running in a race like that would be both comical and tragic simultaneously.

I'd be laboring profusely, snot bubbles bursting from my nostrils, armpits swampy and wet, and that'd be just from the effort of standing in the crowd!

It's just not for me, so I didn't even attempt it.

But I know some people who did.

And they trained.

Some trained for years to get the stamina and endurance built up.

Others trained to get their pacing down so that they could challenge a goal.

As I wrote about the Pomodoro Technique previously, the key to productivity is make it manageable doses.

Being a writer is a lot like being a marathon runner.

If you focus on just the outcome, it seems too difficult a journey.

Focusing on the process in short durations, such as the Pomodoro Technique teaches, makes the outcome easier to accomplish.  One word, one sentence at a time will produce the length and word count you eventually want.

That means, focusing on making small bite-sized portions that will help you accomplish your outcome.

And the sum becomes a byproduct of its parts.

Like a marathon runner - put one foot in front of the other and you'll become a champion eventually.