Sunday, September 27, 2015

Three Ways to Redeem Time

Everyone has the same time constraints. Years ago I noticed some people who accomplished more than others. They were prolific writers in several different areas such as blogs, magazine and books. One of the ways to accomplish more is to redeem the time. I want to give you three different ways to accomplish more in your writing life.

1. Look for wasted time and redeem it

Assessment and evaluation of when you are wasting time is the first step. Maybe you get in your car and immediately turn on your radio listening to music or talk radio. Instead could you be listening to a book or some how-to write information? Make a written notice of specific times when you are wasting it and not making good use of it. Admittedly some times it is helpful to have no agenda and waste time but if you do it day after day, then that is time to be redeemed. Are you watching cat videos on YouTube or playing Solitaire or some other computer game? Could this time be invested in your writing or learning about writing?

For example, when I walk for exercise, I've been listening to an audio book on my iPhone. I enjoy audio books and recently learned about two services through my local library. I signed up to Hoopla with my library card and accessed some audio books. Then a librarian told me our library has a greater selection through Overdrive. I downloaded the Overdrive phone app and signed up through my library card. Just like a regular book, you can check out the audio book for a period of days and download the full book on your phone.

Now when I walk, I've been listening to more of the same audio book. For my first Overdrive book, I selected This is the Story of A Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett.  I've read about this novelist and bookseller but never read any of her books. This is the Story of A Happy Marriage is nonfiction but filled with relevant and fascinating writing information. As I exercise, I'm listening to Patchett read her book and gaining more insight into the writing world.  I tell this story to give you ideas how to redeem your own time.

Bestselling novelist James Scott Bell has a short yet valuable video about how to snatch time. I recommend it as another resource. 

2. Set a writing goal and stick with it

This morning a young novelist asked if he has a deadline. I answered there is no deadline for submitting a book. At Morgan James, we receive submissions daily from authors around the world. As a writer, you have to set your own deadlines and writing schedule. Determine that you will write ____ words a day or a week. Then stay with this goal and you will redeem the time and increase your amount of writing. Make sure you set something that you can achieve but the regular writing will help you.

3. Take consistent action

Take a few minutes and dream about what you want to accomplish in the next month. Maybe it is to be a better writer. Maybe it is to be published in more magazines. Maybe it is to speak more.Maybe it is to sell more books. Each person's goal is different but the person who accomplishes it, takes consistent action. Small steps get it done. You need to determine to make consistent progress toward your goal.

I believe you can do it. Why? Because I've been doing it for years. Let me know in the comments how it is working for you to redeem time.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

How To A.D.D. 3-5 Hours Of Leftover Time Each Week

By Jimmy D. Brown of Earncome

What would you do if you had an extra 3-5 hours of leftover time each week?  Play a round of golf?  Serve a needy cause?  Plan a quality outing with your family?  Just plain ‘ol relax?

Go ahead and pencil your answer into next week’s schedule, because I’m going to give you three ideas that will “a.d.d.” an extra 3-5 hours of disposable time to your week.

Seriously, these ideas have been extremely helpful in freeing up time for my clients and me.  Might as well add your name to the list too!


Something I have come to rely on in managing my time is the use of ready-to-go “accessories” that save me valuable minutes every day.  The idea here is to create an “accessory” (more on this in a minute) that will help you complete daily or frequent tasks much more quickly.  Let me share some of my own…

• Templates.  In my business, I find that I spend a lot of time writing salesletters and content pieces. So, I have a standard .html template which is full formatted that I work from in creating new salesletters.  There are placeholders (“Main Headline Goes Here”) in spots throughout the page for headline, story, subheadlines, bullet points, call to action, guarantee, etc.  Instead of reformatting from scratch, I’m ready to just write.  Same thing with my documents.  I have a Microsoft Word file that already has a title page, legal page, introduction, etc. already formatted.  I simply make appropriate changes and write. 

• Swipe files.  I have many different collections of swipe files that I use to kick-start my tasks.  A few include:  email subject lines, universal blog topics, ezine article topics, titles, openings, bullet points, search phrases, types (of articles, of blog posts, of products, of list mailings, etc) and so forth.  The idea here is to have a set of easy access idea starters and prompts so I don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking up what “angle” to write from.

• Copy and Paste files.  Ever get the same question from customers?  Find that your coaching clients solicit the same kind of advice?  Do you type the same email over and over again?  Plug in the same information into a form?  Anything that I type out more than 2-3 times becomes a copy and paste message that I store in a named text file, email predefined or form filler software program.  Instead of typing it out again, I simply click a button or two and time is saved.

• Checklists.  I rely heavily on my checklists.  Not only do they make me more productive in general (a clear list of things to do will have that affect on you; better still is seeing items checked off!), but they also save me a lot of time trying to remember certain aspects of a task that I may not be proficient at.  I’m a big believer in printable checklists to keep my on track.  I have them for almost everything I do.

• Software.  If it can be automated or semi-automated by a software program, app or tool, I’m all for it.  I save time every day by using a password program, a piece of software that fills in forms that require my personal details (name, address, phone number, etc.), autoresponders, email filters (for sorting and prioritizing) and so forth.  In a future issue I’ll share some of my favorites, but for now suffice it to say that you can save a lot of time each week by automating or semi-automating repeated tasks with software.


While “accessories” create leftover time by completing tasks faster, the “discard” category creates leftover time by NOT completing tasks at all!  The idea here is priceless:  if something on your schedule (or you are considering for your schedule) isn’t necessary, simply don’t do it.

Let me stress that I’m not talking about becoming a procrastinator here.  That’s not my point at all.  Procrastination is another enemy!  What I’m talking about here is determining which activities are important enough to include on your schedule, and which are not.  By eliminating the unimportant things you can free up time to spend at your discretion.  Let me give you my three guidelines for determining if something should be “discarded.”
• First, discard anything that doesn’t really matter.  It may sound really cool that you have a Facebook® fan page … but does it really matter to your business?  (For some, the answer is YES.  For others, it is definitely a NO.)  Do you really have to get that blog setup BEFORE you get started selling your ebook?  Can you get by with three ezine articles on your affiliate resources page instead of five?  Anything that doesn’t really matter, discard it.

• Second, discard anything that doesn’t have a significant impact on your business.  A step beyond that is looking at the amount of impact an activity has on your business. If you spend 10 hours a week writing ezine articles that bring in 100 unique visitors to your site and you can instead work 5 hours a week as a guest blogger to bring in 100 unique visitors, then make the switch.  Whenever possible, look to upgrade on how you use your time so you get a better result.  Oftentimes, you’ll also create LEFTOVER TIME in the process.   Replace activities that produce minimal results with higher concentrated activities that produce the same or better results in less time.

• Third, discard things that have a low profit return on time investment.  Said another way, devote the majority of your time on activities that directly bring in profit.  I spend most of my time on creating products to sell because that’s proven to be the best use of my time since my affiliates, partners and existing lists provide 99% of my traffic for me.  It would be foolish for me to spend most of my time generating traffic and not working on new offers.  Spend most of your time on things that MAKE MONEY.  If it’s not making you money, stop doing it. 


Another thing that will absolutely free up time is for you to become a manager and not a marketer.  That is, you stop doing everything yourself and start relying on other people to take some of your workload from you.  Whether this is outsource to a vendor at Elance.com, handed off to an apprentice, jobbed out to a virtual assistant or split with a partner, getting others to do some of your work can quickly free up your time.

I have three scenarios when I highly recommend you delegate some of your tasks…

• When you are stuck.  If you get to a step in any process that you cannot complete on your own, it’s time to consider getting someone else to do it for you.  While you may be able to spend the next several hours (or days) figuring it out on your own, why would you?  Aside from the frustration that is certain to weigh upon you, it’s also a complete waste of your time.  Unless it’s a skill that you need to master (and even then I’d hire someone to show me how to do it initially), your time is better spent on something else.

• When others can do it faster and more skillfully.  I can create graphics, but that’s not my area of expertise.  I have a designer that I use a lot because he’s much faster than me and much better than me in that area.  There’s no reason to do everything yourself – that’s what experts are for in every field.  When I’m sick, I go to the doctor.  When I’m in legal need, I see my attorney.  When I need a webpage created, I call my graphics guy.  My time is worth more to me when I use it on revenue-generating tasks instead of other things which someone else could do faster and better. 

• When it costs you less than your time investment.  This is a big one.  I look at how much an hour of my time is worth.  Let’s say it’s $100 an hour doing revenue-generating tasks (product creation, licensing, coaching, etc.).  If it’s going to take me an hour to create a handful of banners, buttons and other promotional graphics for my new product and my graphics guy will do the set for $27, what do you think I’m going to do?  I’m going to hire him.  Why?  Because I’m trading $27 for $100 when I do it.  I could save $27 by doing it myself, but I’d lose the hour and the $100 I would have made on revenue-generating tasks.  It’s simple math.  Whenever you can get someone else to do something at below what your time is worth for doing it yourself, it’s a no-brainer to delegate/outsource.

If you’ll pick one or more of these ideas and simply begin implementing them into your weekly schedule, you’ll find that you have a few extra hours of “leftover” time each week to spend as you please.

Jimmy D. Brown is the founder of Earncome, a training program that teaches how to earn full-time income in 10 hours or less each week with strategic steps to take every 7 days. Get all the details at http://www.Earncome.com 


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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

How to Eliminate Your Competition

It is easy to have competitive feelings in the publishing world. Admittedly there are thousands of books and websites all trying to get your attention and eyeballs. Whether you have a manuscript and are trying to get the attention of a literary agent or publisher or your book is published and in the marketplace and you are attempting to get readers and buyers of your book. It can feel crowded and hard to break through the noise.

I've been at conferences and new writers are trying to get my attention for their project or book.It can be a challenge to have your few minutes with an editor or agent in that environment. In this article, I want to give you a couple of tools to eliminate your competition (or at least reduce this tension).

1. Your Attitude 

Some writers view themselves surrounded with competitors. Others see the competition as someone to partner with and help. It is old visual of the half-filled glass. It is half empty or half full? Your attitude will be a huge part in this process. I view my “competitors” as someone that I can learn from and help. If I help them, then they are prone to help me.

There is always something new to learn from anyone who crosses your path—whether they are brand new in the business or they are experienced.  If you take this open attitude, then it will draw others to you instead of propel them away.

2. Your Actions

With the attitude adjustment, take a careful look at others who are in your field or niche. Now ask yourself the question, “How can you help that person or business?” Take several minutes to brainstorm some answers on paper. Can you post a tweet or Facebook post about that author or business? Can you write for a review copy of their book, then read the book and write an honest review? Can you approach them about guest blogging for them or contributing an article for their website or newsletter? Do they have an affiliate program? Can you join their program (usually free) and market their book or product to your audience and make money? These types of efforts create a win-win philosophy for each party. You are helping them to reach a new audience and you are also earning money from the effort.

When you begin to be open to these possibilities, you will see there are many different ways you can help others. The key is to take action and move forward with these ideas. It does not happen in isolation but in partnership, great things transpire.

Several months ago, Patricia Fry approached me to possibly endorse her new book. Propose Your Book is a targeted to people who want to learn how to successfully sell a book proposal. If this topic sounds familiar, it should because almost ten years ago I wrote and launched Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success. The book has over 130 Five Star Amazon reviews and continues to help many people. I've not updated this printed book in years but I hold the exclusive Ebook rights and have continually updated the Ebook version. I even created a free book proposal checklist (follow the link).

On the surface, I could have balked at Patricia's request because this new book is one of my competitors. To be honest the thought did not cross my mind and instantly I wrote back saying, I'd be honored to help and requested a printed copy of the book. If I'm going to endorse a book, I read the book cover to cover to make sure I have something unique and honest to say about the book.  Patricia sent the book and gave her publisher's deadline for the endorsement.

Last week, I received an autographed copy of Propose Your Book. Prominently on the back cover are these words:

“To learn a skill like book proposal creation, I want to turn to someone like Patricia Fry who is aware of the current market needs, authoritative, detailed, and honest. Read this book and follow the instructions, then an editor or literary agent will want to champion and sell your submission.”

--W Terry Whalin, bestselling author of more than sixty books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams

My endorsement helps Patricia but also promotes my latest writing book. Because Propose Your Book is brand new, I noticed there are no reviews on Amazon—at this writing. Often the publisher will include the endorsements on the Amazon page (something which has not happened yet for this book). Even though I write a number of reviews, it would look odd to endorse and also review this book. Part of my effort in helping Patricia is writing this article and promoting it—which tells people about the availability of this excellent book.

The next move is yours to apply this information to your own writing life. What actions are you taking today to eliminate your competition?

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Our Shrinking Publishing World

While to some people it might not seem different, the world of publishing is constantly changing. The decision makers change and move around. The constant in the middle of the change is the search for great books and writing combined with savvy authors connected to the target audience.

Ten years ago I acquired books for a different publisher and I worked in a office cubicle and had dozens of face to face meetings. What I wore to the office made a difference and some days I would wear my suit but because of my acquistions editor position, I always wore a tie. 

Much of the work involved face to face meetings with my colleagues talking about possible books, questions from authors, contracts for authors and agents and other details of publishing. I drove my car to work and would see my colleagues at the coffee pot throughout the day. To accomplish my responsibilities, it was necessary to work inside the publishing house. Back then, it was rare for an editor to work remote and not be available for face-to-face meetings at the company.  Several times a year, I would travel to conferences and events but the bulk of my publishing work took place inside a physical structure.

Today I continue working in the publishing world and finding great books but the process looks completely different than ten years ago. In this new environment, I'm working through the Internet, telephone and Skype with authors all over the world. For example, this morning I emailed an author in Lebanon asking a question about his contract. I'm speaking via Skype with another author in Singapore.

Sometimes authors write and tell me they are planning to come to New York City and want to stop in and for a face-to-face meeting.  I write back and tell them that meeting will not happen in New York because I work remote and live in Denver, Colorado. While I have a Morgan James Publishing email and direct dial New York phone number, I am not physically there working in an office. The publishing world has changed into a global effort.

Through my acquisitions work with authors, I've signed authors in Australia, parts of Asia, the United Kingdom, Russia and even Ghana, Africa. These authors are engaged in the process of getting their book out into the bookstores and not just located in the United States. Because of our world-wide printing capability, Morgan James can print the authors' books in different locations such as the United Kingdom or Australia.  The publishing world continues to shrink.

As an editor in publishing, I believe we are in the communication business. That means we need to be communicating. Often authors will tell me that they sent out their query or book proposal or manuscript to literary agents or publishing houses and heard nothing in response. For myself, I try and be different in this non-communicating world and communicate, answer emails and return phone calls. Just my attention to responding, makes a difference in how author feel and are treated.

I'm always looking for good books to publish through our unique system at Morgan James Publishing. If I can help you, don't hesitate to reach out to me. My email is in my twitter profile. It doesn't have to be about publishing a book. Maybe you need to improve your marketing for your current book or something else related to publishing. I look forward to helping you and hearing from you.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Willing to Change

Change is hard for everyone. We resist it and don't want to do it—unless we are forced to do it. I've moved several times in the last few years and every time I move, there are many changes that I'm forced to make—some I like and others I dislike but change happens. It is a constant in our lives and our writing life.

Right now are you writing something? A book? A magazine article? Are you telling an interesting story that others want to read with a beginning, middle and an end? We sit at our computers and create words. And after they are created, we wonder if they are the right words and if our audience will want to read the words. Will the audience enjoy, like, change or ??? from reading our words?

One of the keys is to create it in the first place and create an excellent work. The next step is to test your words and get feedback. Some writers gather a group of first readers who will give feedback about their writing. Other writers have a trusted friend who reads their work and gives honest insights. Yet others belong to a writer's critique group. If you are not in a critique group and want to form one or find one, read this article to learn more details. The key is to write something that is excellent and others want to read. You will not know if you don't check with the audience—before you send it to an editor or literary agent. Just using this process will help you gain an edge over the other submissions—because you are striving for excellence.

In the journey of going for excellence, you will have to consider any changes that you learn about in this critique process. Some suggestions are excellent and you take while others aren't right and you ignore. You are the only person who can make these decisions about the reactions to your work.

Finally you have your work ready to send to an editor or agent. Congratulations. When you send that work, are you willing to change and follow the suggestions of the editor? Your attitude and willingness will be critical in this process of finding someone to publish your work.

I've been writing for years and I still go through this process. 

Every other month, I write a column about book proposal creation for Southern Writers Magazine. I've been writing for them since their first issue. In the last few days, I completed my November/ December article and sent it to them on their requested deadline. Each time I send my article, I tell the editor that if something doesn't make sense or needs to be changed let me know. If I'm honest, I'm not eager to make those changes and I wonder if the editor will find something to fix. 

Why do I express my willingness to change? Because ultimately the editor is in charge of their publication. They could decide not to publish my words.  I'm always mindful of who is in charge and has that ultimate power over what is published and what is not. Sometimes as an editor, I hold that power but normally it is in the hands of others.

To my relief, I heard from my editor. He loved my article and sent me the version already laid out for their magazine. I reviewed it and everything looks great. It is wonderful to have another article in this publication—but I never take it for granted—nor should you. The professional attitude is to work with the editor or whoever to produce an excellent result.

Are you willing to change for a better result?

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Be More Than An Author

It is terrific to be an author and have books in the world. Over 80% of Americans plan to write a book at some point during their lifetime. Many people have published books through traditional publishers or self-published their book.  It's exciting to hold the new book in your hand and dream of people reading and enjoying your book.

This morning I watched this eight-year old video of Robert Kyosaki for at least the third time. Why? Because this video contains multiple messages and insights from a bestselling author. He and his wife, Kim, are always learning, always promoting, always selling and do not see themselves as authors but as entrepreneurs. Leading up to the Quantum Leap program Steve Harrison offers a series of free teleseminars. The next one is Thursday, September 17th  and you can sign up here. I always learn a great deal from these sessions and recommend it to you.

If you watch this video, you will hear Kyosaki encouraging you to be more than an author—to be an entrepreneur. In the last few years, I've been hearing the term authorpreneur. The word combines the word author and the word entrepreneur.

The authorpreneur is “relevant, entrepreneurial, action-oriented and literary focused.” I pulled these words from the back cover of Will the R.E.A.L Authorpreneur Please Stand Up?

An authorpreneur gets it. They understand they can't simply throw their book into the world and expect people to buy it just because it exists. No, it takes more effort than publishing a book to achieve success. I participated in this book and contributed a chapter to it called Always Learning. If you read this book and study the content of the various participants, it will get you started on your own journey to become an authorpreneur.

From my years in publishing, I find many people looking for the path to become a bestselling author. They are saying, “Just show me the path and I will follow it.” Unfortunately the journey is different for each author.  If there was a single tool or a single path, every author would find it and all of our books would sell many copies—which is not happening. The key from my experience is to always be learning, always trying new tools and new ideas. If the ideas work and increase your sales and your presence in the marketplace, great. If not, then discard those ideas and try something else.

The point is to be taking regular and consistent action in the marketplace. It certainly will never happen if you do nothing.

As I've written before, 80% of the sales for every book is up to the author. As an author, I encourage you to follow the first principle of The Success Principles by Jack Canfield: I will take 100% responsibility for my life. It is far easier to blame others and depend on others than to take your own responsibility.

What actions are you taking today to move forward for your book?

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Tuesday, September 08, 2015

The Essence of Simple Customer Service

As an editor, I make a number of phone calls each day. I also send a great deal of email. Sometimes it feels like those emails go into a black hole and no one hears their voice mail or reads their email. I understand that feeling isn't real but it seems that way from the lack of response.

This week I had several authors respond to my calls and emails in a refreshing way. Everyone is busy. We go on vacation and special outings with our family. We step away from our offices or have some sort of family crisis. Those situations are understandable.

One of my authors sent an email saying they were out of town but would get back to me next week. Another author emailed that she received my message and was going to respond early next week. These authors sent short emails but let me know they received my message and were going to be responding to it soon. Can you respond in this way to let the other person know you received their call or email? To me, it is simple customer service yet important communication.

Recently I interviewed Rick Frishman, publisher at Morgan James. You can hear our interview and have immediate access to the replay. For many years, Rick ran one of the largest public relations companies in the U.S. based in New York City called Planned Television Arts (now called Media Connect). During the call, Rick pointed out that he answers his own email and returns his phone calls. He doesn't have an assistant or someone else to do it, he does it. I identified with what he was saying because I handle it the same way. I return my phone calls and emails.  Like Rick, I do not have an assistant handle returning calls or email. I personally do it.

From my experience, the higher up the chain of command that you reach, often the quicker the response. Leaders and executives understand the importance of good communication. The response is often not long and maybe even be a few words—but you hear from the person almost right away.

The essence of simple customer service is to return calls and respond to emails. It's almost a lost art in our world—but if you practice it, you will stand out and be the exception—and noticed. 

What actions in returning calls and answering your emails can you take today?

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