Monday Notes: 7 Questions

I have seven questions I want to ask you because they’ve been on my mind for a while. Normally, I’d write a story for each, but this time, I’ll follow-up with a brief anecdote instead. I hope you’ll participate and answer one or two.

Here goes.

  1. twitter-292994_1280Do you think children should be able to use a device when at the dinner table? I notice this every time Dwight and I eat out. The last time, there was a young child, no more than eighteen months old. As soon as she finished her meal, the mother propped up her cell phone and had her watch a video. At the adjacent table, a boy around seven-years-old had stared at a tablet for the duration, only stopping to eat his nachos. Something just doesn’t seem right about these scenarios.
  2. Is it rude to be on your phone during work meetings? I don’t mean talking on the phone, but you know, your phone vibrates or lights up. You check it and send a quick text or email response, and then return to the business at hand. Is this rude?
  3. Do you think people who don’t wear their hair in its natural state have self-esteem issues? Some people might think I’m only referring to African Americans and their afros, braids, etc. They’re included under a broader umbrella. I dye my hair because I’m not ready to face the world with gray edges. I don’t think I have self-esteem issues, but at the same time, I don’t like my self with gray edges lol Is it a preference or a deeper thing? What say you? child
  4. Should children be forced to offer a greeting in social settings? This seems to be a more recent trend. When I’ve encountered children under the age of ten years-old, and they don’t say “hello,” their parents offer up something like, “Oh, John is shy. He doesn’t like speaking to people.” Then, the child trots off having never acknowledged there are other people in the room.
  5. What should people do if they have different love languages? For example, my youngest daughter’s love language seems to be quality time, but mine is predominantly receiving gifts. Should I plan to spend time with her as a way to honor her love language, or should I give her a thoughtful gift and hope she appreciates my effort?
  6. What do you think about lawnmower parenting? I personally think this is the cause of our new generation’s anxiety. Some of them rarely experience challenges, and when there is one, they don’t know how to deal. Sometimes this leads to a full-on spiral. Of course, I’m no expert on the subject, but I am curious about others’ opinions.
  7. What is the purpose of familial relationships? I believe the purpose of these types of relationships is to relate to another person in some way, not just to be related. But in families, I’ve noticed people don’t seem to be trying to relate to one another at all. Parents, siblings, and the like tend to think they already know you, so they don’t have to get to know you. Consequently, they never really try to relate; they’re just content with being related.

Mmmmkay. Let me know what you think!

Monday Notes: 5 Suggestions Before Asking Someone to Follow Your Business on Social Media

A few months ago, a friend asked me to follow her on social media because she’s re-branding and doing new things. Of course, I obliged because she’s my friend, and you know that’s what some friends do in the 21st century…support to increase the person’s social media platform in the beginning stages.

Following her, however, has prompted a few pieces of advice about maintaining a social media presence as a business or nonprofit:

Know your social media handle. As soon as she asked, I clicked on my Twitter icon and proceeded to look for her.

Me: Is it this one? @friend19_74?

Her: Oh, let me see…nope, nope, not that one. Try @friend1974.

Me: Is this you?

Her: Oh, naw, naw. Try @1974friend.

Me: So, this looks like you because your picture is here.

Her: Yes. Yes. That’s the one.

twitter_marchKeep your social media current. Once we found the correct account, I scrolled through, as is customary for me to do with strangers. I want to see what the person has posted recently. I want to get a feel for what they typically share. You know. Do they troll people? Do they engage in Twitter arguments just for the sake of being seen? Do they say mean and inaccurate stuff about celebrities or news? When I scrolled through my friend’s page, her last retweet was from seven months prior. Even at the time of my writing this, her last tweet was two months ago. Why would I follow a business that tweets infrequently?

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my baker cousin’s cupcakes

Make your social media relevant. My friend’s business is very niche. Let’s say for the sake of example that she sells cupcakes. When her IG photos pop up in my feed, there is information about cupcakes in the Bay area. If I don’t live there, or even on the West coast, then seeing cupcake info doesn’t interest me. But maybe if you post about those yummy cupcakes you just made, or link to a vegan cupcake recipe that I just have to try, or post a video of yourself making the cupcakes, then at the least, I’ll want to double-tap, and at the most, I’ll look for the website, friend or not.

Choose one site you really enjoy. Nowadays, people will have you to believe that business owners should be actively engaged on every social media site available. If you’re Nike or something, maybe. But, if you’re a small startup, I don’t think this is true, and I believe it’s caused people to burn both ends of the candle, so to speak. For example, a friend suggested I use Periscope when it first launched. I never did because I knew I didn’t have time to learn the inner workings of yet another site. But also, I was comfortable participating in what I was already doing.

Consider this, if you’re not really a photo/video person, then maybe you shouldn’t have an IG account. If you have more to say than will fit into 280 characters, then forgo Twitter. And if you despise FB so much, then let it go. Your social media presence will thrive when you engage in ways that you value, not because someone told you it’s a business requirement.

Do you all have any other advice for business owners who use social media?

Monday Notes: 5 Ways to Become a Writer

img_3443Sometimes I jot down a note and it’s very negative. When that happens, I re-focus and make it a positive post, like this one.

***

I’ve written since I was in elementary school, fifth grade to be exact. However, I didn’t consider myself a writer until six years ago. Once I accepted this part of my identity, I started observing and listening to writers and “aspiring” writers. I’ve determined if you want to be a writer, then this is what you’ll have to do:

Start Writing Now that my writing is public knowledge, people confide in me. Cousins, the man at the Florida Writers Association conference, and the woman who asked me to ghostwrite her novel each want to write. But when I ask them what they’ve written so far, the answer is nothing. I advise each of them the same. Start writing. Whether it’s a public blog or a private diary, the first step is to begin.

Make Time to Write I often thought my job was getting in the way of writing. That wasn’t the truth. And because no one was going to offer me more time in the day, I had to shift my priorities. Instead of watching the Today Show every morning, I wrote for two hours. Then, I began my regular day. Where could you shift your priorities so that you can make time to write?

Take Time to Edit After you’ve written something, consider that your first draft. All writers have first drafts, and second, and thirds, and…you get the picture. As a former English teacher, rarely have I seen a masterpiece written in one fell swoop. When you take time to write, that means you might find yourself pondering over the use of the word stroll, saunter, or walk because you know each one of those words will change the connotation and flow of your sentence. So take the time to think about the words you’ve written in a meaningful way.

You Think Your Stories Have Already Been Heard Probably. I mean an infinite number of books have been written and read. But not yours and not the way you can write it. Comments about The Unhappy Wife have validated this concept. Recently, Story Teller Alley approved me to sell my book on their site. One of the reasons it was accepted is because of originality. A reviewer said,

Although stories of unhappy marriages have been told before, because these are all true stories and each person is different, the stories are all different.”

I’m glad the innovation shone through. Sometimes people read the title and assume they know what’s inside. But it’s a false assumption. Likewise, if I would’ve thought these were trite narratives, then I might not have written the book. So my advice? Don’t worry about it. Somebody wants to read it the way you’ve written it.

You’re Worried about What Other People Think If you follow my blog, then you know I write about many things that have happened in my life. Stories include family, friends, and people I barely know. I couldn’t write half of what you read here if I stopped to worry about someone’s hurt feelings and reinvention of history. Initially, an Anne Lamott quote helped me forge ahead with authentic writing, “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” That quote changed my entire creative nonfiction writing life. The other part that has helped me write the truth is to separate fact from emotion. For example, it’s a fact that my dad packed up my belongings in the middle of the night while I slept. Consequently, I felt abandoned and pushed aside because of what occurred. Stick to the facts and make clear when you’re describing an emotion.

I hope one of these sparks the writer in you. Trust me. Someone, somewhere is waiting to hear your voice, even if the someone is you.

Monday Notes: 4 Ways to Function in Extreme Heat

chicago_skylineDwight and I went back home for about ten days. When I say “home,” I mean Detroit for him and Chicago for me, where we were both born and raised, respectively. While there, Midwesterners experienced extremely hot conditions. For them, this meant mid-90s, with 50% humidity. For Dwight and I, who’ve lived in Florida for over twenty years, it meant…summertime.

All jokes aside, we really were not uncomfortable and as I began to observe everyone else, I could understand why they were. There are certain things you probably should do when it’s unbearably hot.

#1: Wear shorts and stuff. I’d packed several pairs of shorts and tank tops because that’s how I dress during summer months. In fact, my father-in-law off-handedly commented about the size of my shorts. “That won’t take long to iron,” he said. And I thought, yeah…cause I’m dressing for the weather. However, others weren’t. You wouldn’t believe how many people I saw walking around with black jeans and dark long-sleeved shirts complaining about how hot they were! I was taught long ago not to wear dark clothing during the summer because it absorbs heat. But I’m not so sure everyone learned this rule. Trust me. It might make the weather more tolerable.

#2: Exercise indoors. When we arrived to my aunt’s house, I was happy to see her in some above-the knee clothing, but when I complained to her about the guy I saw during his midday jog, she had this to say, “We’ve been waiting all winter for warmer weather. We want to be outside!” I get it. But jogging outside around noon, under the blaring sun is not what’s best. Use your gym membership. Get your run in when it’s sundown, or better yet, when it’s sun rise. The weather’s cooler and you might not suffer heatstroke.

#3: Turn on the air conditioner before it gets hot. The primary reason we were in Detroit was for Dwight’s cousin’s wedding. Her nuptials took place in a humungous church. You know the kind of brick building that takes up an entire city block? Well, the wedding was beautiful, but our sweaty faces and underarm pits were not. It was hot as hell in there! Can I say that about a church? They hadn’t turned on the air conditioner until the morning of the wedding, and given the size of the church, I’d say it probably wasn’t cool until Sunday school. The same thing happened at the reception. In fact, her cake began to melt and lean to one side, all because the air wasn’t turned on in an appropriate timeframe.

#4: Drink lots of water. One year, my best friend visited and asked me, “What’s up with the bottle?” She was asking about something that I’ve done for several years now, carry bottles of water everywhere. No matter what, you’ll always see me with a bottle of water either in my car, on my nightstand, or in my hand. I drink water all day long because it’s always hot where we live. And at the risk of sounding like a PSA, “drinking water helps replenish the fluids lost by excessive sweating. If you don’t get enough water, you may become dehydrated, and the combination of hot temperatures and dehydration can lead to serious heat-related illnesses” (Very Well Fit).

And in the immortal words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

I know I’ve partially made light of extreme weather conditions, but seriously, if you’re in a part of the world that doesn’t normally see high temps, take heed to some of these rules. They just might save your health.

6 Book Marketing Insights from Priscilla Goudreau-Santos

After I self-published Kwoted, it didn’t take me long to realize how much I’d underestimated the importance of marketing. As a result, I’ve spent a year researching different aspects of book marketing that might be helpful whether you plan to self-publish or go the traditional route. The following advice is based on an interview with publicist, Priscilla Goudreau-Santos. She has worked in communications for many years and has an extensive, well-rounded background in public relations, journalism, and marketing within diverse industries.

KEG:   What are the benefits of hiring a book-marketing publicist?

PGS:   One of the advantages of working with a publicist is that he or she can offer you needed exposure to media. Your publicist has the expertise to develop a list of media and bookstores that are best for you—saving time and energy. Publicists will also make the media calls for you. Although it’s necessary to make an investment in publicity, in the long run it’s much less expensive than traditional advertising and more credible. It also saves you time so you can focus on writing.

KEG:   What are the top three things you believe a good publicist provides to his or her client?

PGS:   When you interview potential publicists, ask them if they will regularly update you on their progress and provide you with information such as media lists, a schedule of media outreach, follow-up results, and any other outreach they may do for you. An experienced book publicist can be a valuable, effective partner who will offer education and direction, and can increase your book’s visibility in a very crowded, noisy field.

KEG:   What are some mistakes that you see self-published authors making when marketing themselves and/or their books?

PGS:   Oftentimes, authors don’t start with a plan. The first step is to determine your goals and expectations. Your book publicist is a resource and guide through all the myriad media outlets, but you are critical to your book’s success. Is your goal to sell a certain number of books? Or, is it to gain recognition of a cause that’s near and dear to your heart? The next step for authors is to start their marketing campaign well in advance of publication. I suggest that they learn as much as they can about publicity and marketing well in advance of their book’s publication date. A good resource is their publisher’s publicist or marketing manager. Once an author has determined her goals and expectations, and thoughtfully plotted a three- or six-month strategy, he or she can decide whether working with a publicist makes sense.

KEG:   Now that social media is a part of everyone’s lives, what do you see as the most important step in a social media campaign?

PGS:   Consistency. Use the channels that are most familiar to you and your fans. And, those that fit your demographic e.g. women ages 25-55. For example, if Facebook is a good tool in reaching your fans – one that you use frequently — this is a good place to start. If there are others that work well with your book topic such as Pinterest, use those in lieu of these or in addition to your preferred social media.

KEG:   How much should someone expect to pay for a publicist?

PGS:   The answer to that varies by which publicist and program you choose. I believe an effective campaign will vary from about $1,500 to $10,000 and might reach $15,000 depending on the scope of your marketing program and the results you hope to achieve.

KEG:   Is there anything else you’d like to add?

PGS:   As an author, remember that you’re in it for the long haul. Develop a campaign that reflects your values, is comfortable for you to implement, and that is sustainable over time. If you create a website or blog, make sure that you post to it regularly and that you include information that’s interesting to your readers apart from your book. Do this with your social media as well. The goal for all your online and traditional media is communication, and developing a following is all about being interesting. Thoughtful, funny and informational posts will go a long way in building loyalty.

prsicilla

Priscilla Goudreau-Santos specializes in book and author publicity. She owns Charlotte-based PR firm Priscilla Goudreau Public Relations & Marketing, http://www.priscillagoudreaupr.com, and is a partner in the author online platform, AllAbouttheAuthors.com. She serves authors and clients within diverse industries throughout the southeast including real estate and health care. You can reach her at 904-371-7751 or via email at priscillagoudreausantos@gmail.com.