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An Insider’s View of Indie Publishing Four Successful Authors Share Their Views

Last night, June 11, 2018, I attended a seminar held by the Publishers Association of Los Angeles featuring four successful authors with a chockfull of tips on online publishing. This was one of the most informative seminars I’ve attended – and I frequently attend these type of events so that I can update my knowledge to further help my writing and publicity clients.

The four authors included a bestselling children’s book author, a non-fiction book coach who’s authored a series of instructional books for educators, the author of a bestselling series of books for writers and wanna-be writers, and the author of a series of fiction novels. Each had their own style of writing and marketing and I enjoyed their willingness to share their experience in getting their books out to the public.

Since the focus was on online publishing and e-books (including Kindle), the seminar started with a discussion about the mechanics of online publishing, i.e., creating the interior design, designing the cover, how to acquire the ISBN, whether to publish on Kindle Direct Unlimited, and the use of QR codes that can take a potential buyer to a marketing video (he called it a “book trailer.”

Next, we heard about each author’s efforts toward getting publicity, including writing press releases as opposed to hiring a book publicist (like myself!) and different ways to market their books using social media. We also talked about holding ‘author events’ and building an email list to use when launching a new book. Everyone pretty much agreed it was a waste of money to purchase a mailing list and was ultimately best to build relationships first before trying to sell your product.

Getting book reviews was the next item of discussion: how to solicit these and how to find online reviewers who would be willing to do this for you. We also heard about the benefits of using a survey which could be sent to readers/purchasers of your book and how positive reviews on the survey could be repurposed on the back cover.

In conjunction with the effort involved with creating a press kit, which could be uploaded to your author website, we talked about using Amazon’s marketing series – a little pricey perhaps but which one author stood behind saying it doubled his sales. Facebook ads were also discussed as well as other forms of online advertising.

In conclusion, each author told us what they considered the best thing that came out of their being authors:

1. One author talked about converting his online advertising into revenue.

2. A second said he enjoyed giving presentations and meeting the public.

3. A third said she loved getting positive reviews of her books.

4. And the fourth said she liked being visible and developing camaraderie with her audience and vendors.

As always, I could have stayed way longer than the hour and a half this seminar took because it was so refreshing to connect with other writers and learn from those who have had success in related areas of business.

I want to thank the Publishers Association of Los Angeles (PALA) which puts on innovative and highly-formidable seminars each month for the general public. My deepest appreciation goes to moderator Robin Quinn, a fellow writer, editor and book coach, nonfiction book coach and author Carol J. Amato who is also the owner of Stargazer publishing; Christopher J. Lynch – author of the award winning “One Eyed Jack” series, Derek Doepker, author of six best-selling personal development books; and the award winning children’s book author Alva Sachs. You guys made my night and with your wise counsel, I will be better.

Pat Kramer, aka “Writer For Hire®” is a professional writing service for business professionals, providing high quality, consistently high-rated content to advertise, promote, or market companies’ services and products. Additionally, Pat Kramer provides ghostwriting and publicity services for authors and writes personal memoirs for individuals who want to have a record of their life’s experiences. For more info, please visit: https://www.writerpatkramer.com.  

 

Storytelling: The Secret Weapon That Always Works – If You Do it Right!

Marketing and promoting businesses always works best when you are able to tell a story that either impacts your readers or informs them of a problem that you can resolve. In my days as a news reporter, I always interviewed several news sources for each story I told, giving my radio listeners the pros and cons of the issue at hand. This involved anything from changes in legislation and issues affecting the environment to factors that affected the education and safety of one’s children. In each of the stories I wrote, there was always a real person who was impacted by whatever was taking place.

So how do you tell your story and what story should you tell?

For starters, the story you tell should directly address the concerns of your client base and it should always end with some sort of resolution that you or your firm can provide.

For instance, an estate, trust and probate attorney I recently worked with told me a story about how he was hired to represent the wife of a deceased man who owned property outside of the marriage that he had inherited from his parents. Because the wife was not named as a joint owner of the property, that property was set to go to probate. He further told that one of the man’s three children was addicted to methamphetamine, living on the street, and running roughshod through the family’s finances. The story then involved how he, the attorney, would represent the wife and what consequences might come out of that representation.

In another scenario, a real estate investment company asked me to write blogs for them depicting different scenarios in which they had either saved investors money or prevented a loss. The stories were right there waiting to be told and in the process of doing so, the client was able to achieve better visibility for the work they do, combining both their marketing efforts and public relations work, in one perfect story.

When you tell a story, you always want to hold the readers’ attention. This means don’t bog the story down with too much detail. In the process of describing the problem, you always want to paint as vivid a picture as possible for your readers so they can take this journey with you on an emotional as well as an intellectual level.

Finally, when you provide the solution, make sure you attribute the actions you took to reach a positive conclusion – whether or not it was a win. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way we want them to and we have no control over the outcome. By acknowledging this and explaining what you did to bring about the best possible outcome, you will substantiate your value and create credibility for yourself.

If, at any time, you need help writing your blogs or coming up with ideas to write about – please contact me, Writer For Hire® Pat Kramer, and I will walk you through the process and help you get this done in a timely manner. My company has been in business for nearly 30 years writing effective and creative marketing and PR materials for a wide variety of clients. As a memoir writer, ghostwriter, and business, marketing and PR writer, I can create better visibility and memorability for your firm.

A Pioneer on the Island of Catalina in 1900

Writing can be such a cathartic experience when looking back on your own life – or in the case of Susan Keys, remembering the life of her grandmother, Julia Vera Keys, an early pioneer on the island of Santa Catalina.

When my close friend, Susan Keys, mentioned that her grandmother was born on Catalina Island in 1900, the journalist and news writer in me instantly came out. I knew this was a story I needed to work on and create – and that’s what I did.

Susan’s grandmother, Julia, was one of four children born to Alma and Julius Splittsoesser from 1900 – 1910 when Julius was the foreman of the rock quarry operating on Catalina Island, 20 miles off the coast of Southern California. At that time, there were no other children or families living on the northeast end of the island and no schools, hospitals or stores. In fact, few people lived on the island at all during that time period. The Splittsoesser children were, most likely, born at home then homeschooled, living an isolated, subsistence lifestyle with few toys or treats and only each other for company.

As Susan recounted her early memories of her grandmother, I began asking her further questions about her family and more memories came forward. With her stories and additional research I was able to do, with the help of the Catalina Island Museum, I created a short, ten page story that led from one generation to another with a common theme throughout them all.

Everyone has a story to tell – it’s just a question of which stories you want to recall and memorialize about yourself and others who have had a profound effect on your life. While many people have interesting stories, it’s always sad when they pass on without having shared them with others.

Writing one’s memoirs doesn’t have to be a long process – it can be done over a few week’s time. It also doesn’t have to be tedious. When I write stories for others, I ask the questions and they just need to provide me with responses. They can tell me as much or as little as they want. Sometimes, what they don’t say is as important as what they do say.

Memoir writing is beneficial to the person whose telling the story as it allows them to reflect on their life and to see how rich a life they’ve led, even if they haven’t achieved all of their goals and dreams. And even if someone is writing their memoir for themselves, and not for a wider audience – it provides time for them to reflect on their accomplishments and to relive happy, loving memories. In Susan’s case, we were able to bring not only Julia to life, but Julia’s parents, sisters and children through these stories.

As for me, I was pleased to be able to write about the life of this wonderful, young woman, and recognize her as one of the early pioneers on Santa Catalina Island at the turn of the century. There weren’t many stories written about women from that time – not like we have today. Stories are ageless and so beneficial to learning where our values come from and who we are, as a result of those who came before us and many are waiting to be told.

For more information, please visit: www.writerpatkramer.com.

Pat Kramer interviewed about L.A.’s “Road Diet”

http://mayorsam.blogspot.com/2017/09/a-ready-set-road-diet-inhibiting.html?m=0

Here’s one of the more memorable photos of the massive fire Sept. 1 – 4, 2017 in my community. The traffic was particularly hideous because the LA DOT shut down the exit off the 210 freeway for Sunland Boulevard so all traffic going east was diverted onto Foothill Boulevard and came through our community along Foothill Boulevard – the single lane (now) road. DOT’s solution to speeding on Foothill was to just shut down on whole lane on either side and construct a bike lane. All this has done is create a major traffic issue now, and of course, antagonism for those who would like to use the bike lanes. It’s really a sad situation and a flashpoint in our community!

I WRITE IN MY SLEEP

I don’t know how many times I have used the expression, “It’s so easy, I could do it in my sleep,”?  Well for me – it’s true: I often write in my sleep.

Sometimes it’s a continuation of projects I’m working on for clients – blogs, memoirs or a book I’m ghostwriting. Other times, it’s not the actual writing that I’m doing in my dream; it’s about me quoting a rate for a project or following up with someone who asked me to work with them previously. In each of these instances, work does not end when I turn out the light and go to sleep, but rather, continues into the different stages of the sleep cycle when my creative thoughts are swirling around in my head.

I believe this process is very common for those in the arts. I remember Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones mentioning that he often came out of dreams with songs already partially written. It was during the dream state that ideas would come to him for melodies or riffs and he would pull out his tape player and put it down on tape in the middle of the night, then go back to sleep.

Another things that I sometimes find myself doing is typing keys on my imaginary keyboard when I’m asleep. I’ve been told that my fingers move and I’ve also woken myself up doing this. Rather than this being a nervous impulse, I think it’s, again, related to what I’m dreaming about.

The late, great Stevie Ray Vaughn used to play guitar in his sleep, according to one of the biographies I read about him. He was known for practicing all the time and sleeping with his guitar next to him in bed, so that if he wanted to work out some new instrumentation in the middle of the night, he could do so without much effort.

I’ve always been able to remember my dreams – often with great detail. I’m fortunate in that this process helps me sort things out that I’m trying to resolve. Sometimes, it provides the seeds of creativity for a project, while other times, it enables me to work out complex feelings.

In last night’s dream, I was writing a blog for a former client and it was a good one, from what I can recollect. Why was I writing this blog for a former client? I have no idea. I haven’t spoken to her in a long time and I don’t recall thinking about her recently.

Does everyone act out in their dreams what they do for work? Do our dreams actually have meaning, or are they just projections of stress that we are creativity trying to sort out?  Are our dreams filled with meaning, or are they made up of random thoughts?

You decide.

YELP: Is it a Waste of Time to Set up a Business Page?

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Side of Yelp

I recently created a new business page on Yelp to allow my customers to write reviews of my business. As a marketing and PR writer, I figured this would be a good way to get the word out about Writer For Hire by letting my clients tell others about their experiences. So this week, I got down to it and created a Yelp page.

Early yesterday, I started contacting people with whom I had worked to let them know that I had created a Yelp page. Many of them were very enthusiastic about writing me a review as they wanted to share their level of satisfaction with my work. By the end of the day, 10 clients had posted reviews – but mysteriously, 3 others that people told me they had posted, were absent.

This morning, I eagerly opened my new Yelp business page, Writer For Hire, to see what was going on with my reviews. To my surprise, half of my reviews had been taken down and hidden by Yelp — and the 3 that had been missing were STILL missing!

So I called the “nice” advertising guy, Joe, who I had previously spent 2 hours with on the phone reviewing advertising options, about this new glitch with the system. (Joe had recommended that I spent $300 – $450 a month on advertising – and another $75 a month if I wanted to hide the advertising by my competitors, which automatically shows up on my business page!). I told Joe that my reviews were being removed by Yelp and I needed his help to restore them.

To my surprise, he told me that there was “nothing he could do,” – that it was their algorithm software that made those decisions, and that “nobody really knew what the parameters were for choosing what reviews to post and what reviews to hide.”

When I questioned him further about this, he said it was probably due to the reviewers not having enough experience in writing reviews – or it could be that they didn’t have a photo posted.

Well this didn’t make any sense to me because some of my reviewers DID have photos and HAD reviewed other businesses and they were still hidden, while other reviewers who didn’t have a photo and hadn’t written other reviews, were visible. I told Joe this and waited for his reply.

He then told me that it was probably my fault that the reviews didn’t post because I had asked people to write me reviews in the first place!

On the Yelp business “How To” page, it explains this policy of hiding people’s reviews:

Why would a review not be recommended?

“There are a number of reasons why a review might not be recommended. For example, the review may have been posted by a less established user, or it may seem like an unhelpful rant or rave. Some of these reviews are fakes (like the ones we see originating from the same computer) and some suggest a bias (like the ones written by a friend of the business owner), but many are real reviews from real customers who we just don’t know much about and therefore can’t recommend.”

Then it further explains that their algorithm can actually change what it approves, from one day to the next:

Why are different reviews recommended on different days?
“Our recommendation software runs on a daily basis, so the results can change day-to-day. For example, the software might pick up new information as time goes by that makes a reviewer seem more trustworthy, or the information we have about a reviewer can grow stale.”

Now as a marketing and PR writer, I know that when you have any kind of vehicle – be it a blog, a press release, an article or a new book published, you promote it. How else are people going to know about it? So it stands to reason that when I set up my new Yelp Business Page, I was going to let people know about it. In doing so, it was understandable that there would be a flurry of activity with people writing and posting their reviews. This is a good thing, right?

Apparently not. Joe questioned me – wanting to know if I go on Yelp to write reviews or to find businesses. I said I did both. “Well,” he told me, “Yelp is a business directory and that’s why we recommend you use it rather than just to write reviews.” I could tell by the way he said it, that he was inferring that I was using it “wrong” and furthermore, that this was a waste of his time even discussing it with me.

I wish I could write a review of Yelp, itself, because I would tell users that it has not been a positive experience for me in setting up a business page for Writer For Hire. No, in fact, I’ve learned that my customer reviews will be viewed with suspicion if there are “too many positive reviews” and also, that they will hide them if they choose to and that there’s absolutely no one who can do anything about it because it’s controlled by their “algorithm software” which nobody understands (or is willing to re-program).

So I decided to try another strategy. I wrote myself a positive review, and then sat back and waited to see if it got taken down by the algorithm software. And guess what? It didn’t! So much for their algorithm software being able to detect suspicious posts. Eventually, I took it down myself – my point being proven.

Over the past few months, I’ve heard a lot of gripes and grumbles from business people who have used Yelp and gotten bad reviews by competitors looking to cast aspersions on their business. I’d be interested in knowing what you think about Yelp: Have you had any experiences like mine? What happens to those reviews that are “hidden” – do they ever see the light of day? Is there anything anyone can do about it?

For anyone interested in seeing my page, you can go to “Writer For Hire” on Yelp – but if you want to write me a recommendation, I would recommend you NOT waste your time here because it’s probably not going to be posted. Instead, go to my LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ghostwritingbrandingexpert where at least I know the reviews I get will be visible.

Congressman Adam Schiff Holds Climate Change Event at CalTech

By Pat Kramer

Congressman Adam Schiff addressed a full house at Cal Tech’s Beckman Auditorium on Friday, April 21, 2017 to speak about Climate Change. The U.S. Representative is a strong environmental proponent and, as such, is working hard to hold the line on the divisive comments about climate change and global warming by the current administration.

Speaking about their research on that subject were Alex Hall, Ph.D. – Professor of UCLA’s Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences; Francesca Hopkins, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Climate Change & Sustainability at the University of California, Riverside’s Department of E Sciences; and Tapio Schneider, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Science and Engineering at California Institute of Technology. Each responded to questions posed by audience members, which included scientists, environmentalists, and students interested in the future of our state.

The Congressman stated that we have taken steps backwards in our former progress on Climate Change with cuts by the current administration to Clean Energy programs and research. Professor Hall pointed out that if things keep going as they have, by the middle of this century the number of “extreme heat” days (95 degrees and over) will increase from 50-55 days at present to possibly 100 days per year. That would then impact our water resources, the sustainability of our water supply, and could lead to rising sea levels and more wildfires.

If, however, steps can be taken to reduce carbon emissions, the scientists agreed that our climate will stabilize.

Congressman Adam Schiff is the U.S. Representative for California’s 28th District. He’s been a member of Congress since 2001. You can contact his Burbank office at: (818) 450-2900 or go to: http://schiff.house.gov.

Congressman Adam Schiff Holds Climate Change Event at CalTech

Congressman Adam Schiff addressed a full house at Cal Tech’s Beckman Auditorium on Friday, April 21, 2017 to speak about Climate Change. The U.S. Representative is a strong proponent for the Sierra Club and is working hard to hold the line on the divisive comments about climate change and global warming. Speaking about their research on that subject were Alex Hall, Ph.D. – Professor of UCLA’s Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences; Francesca Hopkins, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Climate Change & Sustainability at the University of California, Riverside’s Department of E Sciences; and Tapio Schneider, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Science and Engineering at California Institute of Technology. Each responded to questions posed by audience members, which included scientists, environmentalists, and students interested in the future of our state.

The Congressman stated that we have taken steps backwards in our former progress on Climate Change with cuts by the current administration to Clean Energy programs and research. Professor Hall pointed out that if things keep going as they have, by the middle of this century the number of “extreme heat” days (95 degrees and over) will increase from 50-55 days at present to possibly 100 days per year. That would then impact our water resources, the sustainability of our water supply, and could lead to rising sea levels and more wildfires.

If, however, steps can be taken to reduce carbon emissions, the scientists agreed that our climate will stabilize.

Congressman Adam Schiff is the U.S. Representative for California’s 28th District. He’s been a member of Congress since 2001. You can contact his Burbank office at: (818) 450-2900 or go to: http://schiff.house.gov.

Cargo Theft on the Rise

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:      

Please contact Patty Kotze

Diversified Risk Management

(562) 319-0411 or E-mail: pkotze@drminc.us

 

Diversified Risk Management, Inc. Urges Companies to Take Proactive Measures

 LOS ANGELES – (November 17, 2010) – California has the highest rate of cargo theft in the nation with a frightening increase in armed robberies, warehouse theft, and truck hijackings occurring throughout  the state.  According to Diversified Risk Management, Inc. (DRM, Inc.), a Southern California workplace investigation firm, many of these incidents are “inside jobs.”  Law enforcement and insurance industry officials estimate that cargo theft costs the U.S. shipping industry over $30 billion per year with most incidents occurring in the fourth quarter of the year.  Thefts are such a great threat that the FBI recently issued an alert last week on this growing crime*.

“Over the past decade, cargo theft has risen dramatically but it’s never been as high as it is now,” says George Ramos, Jr., Managing Partner and Senior Executive Investigator for DRM, Inc.  To off-set millions of dollars in potential losses, Mr. Ramos recommends executives in manufacturing and shipping industries immediately take some definitive action to protect their firms from theft.

“Cargo typically disappears from the truck somewhere between the distribution facility and the final destination,” says Mr. Ramos.  “In our investigations, we have found that either there is an inside connection at the shipping department feeding valuable information to the hijackers, or the freight truck driver is working independently with the criminals.  It’s very rare for hijackers or burglars to approach a truck without already knowing what’s onboard.  The type of merchandise targeted for theft typically includes recyclable metals, pharmaceuticals, consumer electronics, clothing, building supplies, cigarettes, or food.”

“Before cargo theft occurs, before loads are targeted, we recommend companies perform due diligence through employment background checks.  They especially should demand that their Temp Agency conduct both criminal background checks and drug tests on temporary employees as these workers could pose a risk of infecting the company’s employees.”

“Additionally, distribution and trucking centers should hire a competent investigation firm to place undercover workers on their shipping docks and inside warehouses that are at risk.  Undercover workers can observe employees’ work habits from the inside and document any misconduct.  By taking preventative action, those participating in these crimes can be stopped in time to recover some or all of the stolen cargo.”

Through its investigations into crimes committed in the workplace, DRM, Inc. has broken up numerous theft rings accounting for millions of dollars in stolen merchandise.   Often, these crimes had been going on for years, undetected.  In many cases, they have been instrumental in bringing criminal charges against unscrupulous businesses buying stolen cargo below wholesale prices and have recovered large civil damages for companies.”

“With Los Angeles’ Alameda Corridor being one of the most highly-traveled trucking routes, there’s a huge potential for cargo theft,” says Ramos.  “By initiating pre-holiday investigations, employers can determine whether there is a problem within their operations in time to prevent huge losses during the fourth quarter of 2010 and ensure operations run smoothly at the most vulnerable time of year, the Holiday Season.”

Diversified Risk Management, Inc. is a Los Angeles investigative firm that assists corporations of all kinds, and the attorneys who serve them, in identifying, responding, and mitigating risk through comprehensive and integrated professional service offerings.

DRM, Inc. is known for solving complex business problems, reducing risk and improving profits for clients across the nation and beyond.  For more information about their corporate investigation services, please visit: www.diversifiedriskmanagement.com.

Information about the FBI News Story:

Cargo Theft

( using content from  http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2010/november/cargo_111210/cargo_111210  )

Northwestern Mutual To Serve as Presenting Sponsor of The Dole Great Race of Agoura Hills

For Immediate Release

Media inquiries, please contact:

Nikki Burla, The Beer Financial Group

(818) 610-7059 or nicole.burla@nm.com

 

Woodland Hills, CA (January 29, 2014) — Mitchell Beer CLU®, ChFC®, CFP®, Managing Partner of Northwestern Mutual – The Beer Financial Group, today announced his firm will serve as Presenting Sponsor of the 29th Annual Dole Great Race of Agoura Hills on Saturday, March 22, 2014.  Expectations are that 7,000 runners and another 3,000+ spectators will show up to support this event. Comprised of the nation’s top, two Half Marathons, The Great Race is a major fundraising event for local schools and other charities. This year, the group, www.beerfinancialgroup.com will be raising money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) for Childhood Cancer (www.alexslemonade.org).

“To date ALSF has raised more than $75 million and funded over 375 research projects to help put an end to childhood cancer,” says Mitchell Beer. “We all know someone who has been affected by cancer and we want to use this opportunity to take an active stand in helping raise money for cancer research.

“Additionally, as a financial advisory firm it is our job is to keep our clients in the best financial health possible, so good health is a common theme for us. By sponsoring the Great Race, we support good health and support the schools that educate our clients’ kids and grandkids while making a positive impact in our whole community.”

Mitch got involved with the Great Race six years ago when he decided to run the Half Marathon. “I had never run a Half Marathon before,” says Mitch. It was such a positive experience that many of our financial reps joined me in the effort. Last year, we had 40 – 50 financial reps and staff participate. Everyone enjoyed themselves and it was a great way to bond with others in our community.”

The Great Race is made up of six individual races: the noted Pacific and Chesebro Half Marathons; the Old Agoura 10K, one of the top 10Ks in the country; The Deena Kastor 5K, named for the Olympic Marathon Bronze Medalist and multiple American record holder; the Kids Mile; and The Family Run. This is The Beer Financial Group’s third year as a major sponsor. Last year, the firm raised almost $10,000 for Alex’s Lemonade; this year, their goal is to raise $25,000.

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Northwestern Mutual was founded in 1857 to help protect people against financial risk so they can plan for and achieve a secure financial future. With local offices in Woodland Hills, Encino, Santa Barbara and Bakersfield, Northwestern Mutual has been building long-term relationships in the communities they serve by offering expertise with a wide range of insurance and investment products to address individuals’ needs for financial protection and asset accumulation. As the Presenting Sponsor for the Great Race, they will be helping ensure that the Race achieves its financial goals to raise needed funding for local schools such as Agoura Hills and Oak Park elementary schools and high schools.

Northwestern Mutual – The Beer Financial Group is located at 21800 Oxnard Street, Suite 800 in Woodland Hills, CA. For more information, please visit: www.beerfinancialgroup.com.