Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm thankful for...

I don't know about you, but this has been a rather depressing month for me. I just haven't felt like posting at all, with everything that has happened in the nation and the world.

Then yesterday I was officially diagnosed with Celiac Sprue. Basically it means that I can’t eat gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, and perhaps oats, so it’s easy to see how avoiding gluten isn’t easy, and why Thanksgiving in particular might not be fun. It’s not just the rolls and stuffing I can’t eat; it’s the green bean casserole, the glazed ham, the pies, and even things like salad dressing and gravy.

Perhaps it should have been depressing, but the diagnosis actually had the opposite effect for me: it has made me strangely grateful. As some of you know, I’ve known for years that Celiac Disease or not, I don’t tolerate gluten at all. A diagnosis simplifies my life a lot; I no longer have to explain or try to justify my diet to doctors, waiters, or know-it-all family members. It’s actually kind of nice—in a sad I-can-never-have-pizza-again sort of way.

Anyway, it got me thinking of all I am thankful for: my family, a supportive husband, a stable job, plenty of food (gluten free, mind you), all those law school waivers which slashed the cost of applications, the basic life skills I’ve developed (you come to appreciate those pretty quick when you work as a college counselor…), friends, good books, kittens (so cute!), inventions like washing machines and grain mills, a comfortable house, holidays, little things like lotion and chapstick… Really, I have a lot to be grateful for. (Sorry, editors! I couldn’t think of another normal way to word the sentence.)

I wish I were better at remembering the good things in life rather than focusing on the bad, but I think I’m slowly improving. I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving week and can find plenty for which to be grateful. (Editors: how’s that?)


By: Shama Hyder (www.AftertheLaunch.com)
Use your real name. Save the company bit for the info section.
Use a picture that shows your face. Skip the silly goggles, hats, and political stickers. Show me who you are!
Create a twitter background that gives people a quick synopsis of who you are. Learn how to create your own here.
Share a link to your own blog posts.
Find a cool new tool? Share it. My latest find- The Jing Project.
Show gratitude.
Ask for help. (Anyone know why puppies love peanuts?)
Start a discussion!
Re-tweet important tweets. Re-tweeting is when you repeat what someone has already twittered. Best example of re-tweeting I saw was when a Portland twitter buddy’s daughter went missing! The twitter board lit up with re-tweets. She was found.
Share a pic. http://www.TwitPic.com
Post updates during conference time!
Report earthquakes and other natural disasters. Seriously-Twitter is faster than the Associated Press.
Help a Reporter Out. Just follow @SkyDiver for relevant tweets.
Brag about your clients. When they deserve it of course! One of our clients, K9Cuisine, personally delivered 24k pounds of food to the Houston SPCA after Hurricane Ike hit. Remarkable. Video here.
Build relationships with people you only run into once or twice at conferences.

Create an informal mastermind. I once heard of a few school teachers who used Twitter to share lesson plans and get feedback on challenges.

Quick Surveys! What do you like better? Posts with lists or paragraph type posts?
Make predictions.
Perform an act of kindness. When @Dalbee heard my twitter pleas for help navigating Boulder, he quickly asked @laurenpreston to pick me up from the airport. She also dropped me back!
Give and get Free stuff? No, seriously. Just ask @Aruni who scored a printer. And @DaveTaylor who scored free tickets to a Cirque show in Las Vegas.
Find product reviews. I never buy any big tech gadget before asking the pundits on Twitter to weigh in. Just don’t ask MAC or PC. The responses shut Twitter down!
Movie reviews! Just go to http://www.search.twitter.com and type in the name of a movie you are considering going to. Tada! Real time reviews. Also you can follow @FilmBuzz
Share a recipe! You can’t share food, so might as well share the recipe.
Review a product.
Find an intern!
Hire a new team member.
Get the scoop on a potential hire. Just search for their name at http://www.search.twitter.com.
Get the scoop on a date. Never done it myself but boy have I heard stories!
Find a great new restaurant. Just ask a local…or do a search!
Tweet-Ups. Meet up (physically!) with the people you twitter with.
Get customer service help- quicky! Network Solutions, Comcast, Zappos, Whole Foods, and Dogster are just some companies that come to mind who have a presence on Twitter. It’s ALMOST as cool as having a fairy Godmother.
Find JV partners.
Brag about a job well done by another company or individual. They WILL work harder for you, and appreciate the remarks. @MariSmith is one of our greatest fans on Twitter, and we adore her for it!
Find a job or a contract position.
Establish expertise by providing your expert opinion when called for.
Use it as a virtual water cooler. A lot of people on Twitter work from home, and appreciate the virtual water cooler.
Share hope and pride! This was a common theme during the election period.
Share tips. Swallowing a tablespoon of peanut butter cures hiccups.
Find new blogs to read and explore!
Connect with people across the globe.
Don’t post spam links. This serves no one. Remember, it’s just as easy to un-follow someone as it is to follow them.
Find speaking engagements. Definitely stalk @BlogWorld. Just kidding! Rick is just a fun guy to follow.
Find speakers for your events! Both speakers and event planners hang out on Twitter.
Share book reviews.
Find book reviews. More accurate than Amazon in my opinion!
Use cool tools like http://www.TweetLater.com to automate direct welcoming messages to new followers. Much like an auto responder. Use wisely!
Ask top bloggers your questions! @ProBlogger @JonathanFields @LizStrauss @BlogSquad are all on Twitter!
Get the scoop on local events. If you live in the DFW area, be sure to follow @LizMarshall @MarbleHead @Veribatim @CharlesMcKeever
Favorite tweets (by clicking on the star button to the right) that you want to follow up on later. Especially the ones that contain relevant links you think you don’t want to forget.
Tweet out your newsletter or eZine. Courtesy of Aweber! (Just one more reason I love them!)
Get new subscribers. Do this by sharing relevant and useful information.
Don’t ask people randomly to subscribe to your information.
Monitor what is being said about you and your company.
…Then join the conversation!
Find sponsors for your blog. No kidding!
Break news. If you follow me on twitter you know that After The Launch will soon be Click To Client. You did know that right? = )
Learn to become POWERFULLY succinct. If you can’t say it in 140 characters, well…then you just can’t say it!
Keep your Twitter name short whenever you can. Your twitter name counts within the 140 character limit.
Promote your conference or event. Keep it classy!
Showcase your work. Either by linking to it in your information, or providing a link in your twitter background.
Learn from people you admire. I do this on a daily basis, and it helps our business greatly!
Play a clean and fun joke. Wait until April fool’s day.
Get fitness help. I cannot begin to thank @fitbizwoman for all the help she has given me! I didn’t realize virtual physical training was doable. It is.
Find inspiration. Follow @InspireMeToday
Promote your new product or ebook. Again-be classy. Content marketing! Follow @JuntaJoe to learn more.
Host contests.
Participate in contests.
Find and pitch bloggers who cover what you offer.
Build relationships with bloggers (this is priceless if you own a business of any sort!).
Getting votes. Again, no kidding!
Get flight information and travel tips. Follow @Southwest @JetBlue.
Redistribute content.
Take questions from the audience whenever you participate in a teleseminar or conference.
Build a fan base! Better yet..build a community. You do know how to do this right? Just to be sure follow @ChrisBrogan.
Direct traffic. A huge percentage of traffic to this site comes from Twitter alone.
Online Visibility! Twitter is a GREAT way to build your personal brand. An entire persona can be created just by following someone’s tweet.
Find new people to follow just by following those you respect and trust. This is powerful networking at its best!
Share tips that further establish your expertise. If you follow me, you will often get online marketing tips and Facebook tips.
Say please and thank you. Yea, I know you only get 140 characters but a little politeness goes a long. Pls = please. TY = thank you.
Don’t use questionable pictures of yourself. If there are kids in the background, parents twittering may un-follow you.
Don’t feel like you have to respond to every tweet. In fact, don’t. Only respond to tweets that you have something genuine to add to.
Get comfortable with the fact that there IS a lot of noise on twitter. What can you do about it? Don’t add to it! : )
Get your particular group members to sign up with Twitter. Then use it to keep in touch with them and trade quick updates. The groups don’t even have to be formal. Neighborhood carpool, PTA, and office mates all fly! Check out http://grouptweet.com/ to keep it organized.
Raise funds for your non-profit. Follow @JohnHaydon for more tips and tricks!
Evangelize. Anything. Do it in the proper spirit. Please.
Track packages from major carriers. @trackthis
Reminders - @timer
Toot your own horn. Go ahead, you deserve it!
Don’t toot your own horn too much. Keep it classy, remember? : )
Let others toot your own horn for you. Keep in touch with your clients on Twitter.
Be careful what you tweet. It NEVER goes away-even if you hit the little trash icon.
Don’t tweet what you wouldn’t want your boss, your mother, or your kid to see. You get the idea.
Be there for someone having a rough day. Empathy made easy courtesy of Twitter. Watch @EvansDave to learn how to do it well!
Get ideas for your next blog post. Just sit back and observe!
Get ideas for a new product or service. A marketplace full of people just talking! All you have to do is listen and observe their pain. Then come up with a solution!
Share! If you find great links, great articles, great anything- share. More often than not, your followers will appreciate you.
Don’t worry about your status update count or your follower number. QUALITY over QUANTITY!
Un-follow freely. You don’t have to feel bad about un-following negative people…or spam bots!
Don’t be a spam bot. Be a person! Let your personality shine through.
Strive to provide value in every tweet. Think before you tweet!

One More Little Thing

Steve Mettee of Quill Driver Books, sent me this story about
one of his authors:

She is vacationing in Hawaii so she contacted a Barnes & Noble store
and set up an author signing event. She then contacted the hotel she
is staying at and asked them to place an event flyer in the morning
newspapers they leave at the door of their guests. They agreed!

Her book has been out for at least 4 years and it is still selling strongly.
Wonder why.

I love the idea of having a hotel stuff a flyer inside their morning
newspapers. What a wonderful way to reach hundreds of potential
customers (strangers in town) who may be looking for something to do.

In a later email, Steve told me that his author also went to the hotel
next door and go them to place flyers in their newspapers as well! Now
that's an author a publisher has to love.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


by Shirley Bahlmann
It was a year and a half ago when I got the urge to contribute to the local city park so that my family's names could be sandblasted in bricks for ever and ever or until a meteor strike, whichever comes first. I know I won't get any blessings in heaven for having my name on my contribution. My Heavenly home may be a few bricks short. It took a looooong time for us to be firmly entrenched underfoot in the new park's sidewalk, but now I'm proud to announce that the Bahlmann's are officially a bunch of blockheads.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Speaking of Really Great Books

Speaking of creating really great books, here's some fun material.

Every year, English teachers from across the country submit their most amusing similes and metaphors gleaned from high school essays. Here are some of the winners from 2007:

• He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

• She grew on him like she was a colony of E.Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

• She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

• Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

• John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

• Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

• The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

• It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

• He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Promote your book

Thanks to all of you who gave me great suggestions for the author event in Salt Lake. There were about 100 authors there. Some we knew, but most we didn't. We had a great time talking about books, great books, and really great books and what it take to write them, publish them, and sell them.

I don't think there is anything I love talking about more. I really want to answer your comments later in the week, but I thought I'd give you a short list of books I'm coming up with to learn about book promotion.

For many years I've suggested three mainstays: 1001 Ways to Market your Books by John Kremer. John as been at it a long time and he keeps his book updated. It is now in its sixth edition. The most practical book I've read is Jump Start your Book Sales by Tom and Marilyn Ross. The suggestions it has are the ones you're most likely to get done. The third one is Guerilla Marketing for Writers by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman and Michael Larsen. Of course, Rick is the book guy of the bunch.

I've added a few more lately that I think you'll get a lot from: The Complete Guide to Book Publicity by Jodee Blanco. She was heavy into PR and can give you good tips. The book was written in 2004, but is now in its second edition. Three more on our shelves are The making of a Bestseller, Hill and Power; The complete Guide to Book Marketing by Cole; and The Savvy Authors Guide to Book Publicity, by Carroll & Graf.

As I was looking down the list of book publicity bestsellers on Amazon this morning I saw a few more I think we'll order today: The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard-Johnson. Many of you know her. She's from here in our neck of the woods.

With the ever-developing internet, we need to stay up with the following books: Plug Your Book! Online Book Marketing, by Steve Weber; Guerilla Marketing on the Internet by Jay Conrad Levinson, et al; The New Influencers by Paul Gillin; and Marketing to the Social Web, by Larry Weber.

One more I'm going to throw in is Word of Mouth Marketing—How Smart Companies Get People Talking.

I'd love to know if any have read any of these books and have done reviews. I'll post reviews as I plow through them.

Thanks again for such great suggestions for last week and happy reading. As always, please comment so I know if I'm doing any good. In the end it is really only writers who truly make a difference. I'll post again on Wednesday to answer your questions.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Two Ladies in Red

by Shirley Bahlmann
It was with great anticipation that I hurried to get ready for our author visit last Tuesday in Ephraim, Utah. I flung my "Eeyore University" t-shirt on the bed and pulled on a classic black t-shirt and festive red cotton vest. I thought Christmas colors would be appropriate for greeting the author of "The Santa Letters."
When Stacy Gooch Anderson popped out of her car, I saw that she wore a beautiful shimmering red blouse. I love sparkles. She looked gorgeous. I had to have my picture taken with her! (I know it's blurry, but you don't see any wrinkles on me, do you? DO YOU? That's what I thought. Boy, am I ever tall... I hope I remembered my 24-hour deodorant.)
It was delightful to have Stacy speak to my writing group first, and then to the community who gathered in the conference room. (I didn't get to hear that one, since I was rescuing my son from his locked car at work twelve miles away.) Stacy sold 35 books to grateful attendees, and handed out door prizes she brought with special messages on each one, putting us all in the Christmas spirit even though it was before Halloween!
Lastly, she and her husband, Brad, insisted on helping me carry things to my car, even though it was 9:00 p.m. before they left for home. Ho, ho, ho. They live what's in Stacy's book. And I was privileged to meet them both.