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Ways to Approach the New Year

Full disclosure: I don’t start the new year ready. It’s not my thing. I like to enjoy the holiday time of the end of the year being with family and friends and slowing down. My brain can’t wrap around reflections and resolutions. So I’ve made peace that January is my month to get ready for the upcoming year.

To “get ready” has been an evolving process over the years where I try new things to figure out what works best and fits with how I live and work. This month I’ve lined up several resources to help guide my journey of launching into the new year. I’m sharing them below if you are looking for direction too:

One Word: This fairly simple concept (though it does require time, space, reflection and listening) is captured in a wonderful little book that walks you through the process of finding your one word to guide, direct and impact your year. My word this year is LIGHT. What’s yours?

Un-Do 2022 with Kate Hanley & Terri Trespicio: Tune into this series of short podcasts (Ep. 607-611) where they are taking a slightly different approach to starting the new year – especially after the past two we have had. Kate and Terri will walk you through five surprising strategies (based on Terri’s new book – see below) for a better year.

A Good Look with OhHappyDani: The oh so creative and purposefully passionate Danielle Coke has a brilliant worksheet walking you through reflections and asking questions to guide you into your best approach to the new year.

Clarity Cards with Dan Blank: This 5 step system author coach Dan Blank has been using for years for himself and clients is not really complicated. However, you’ll find its simplicity and the physical act of writing out and moving around your priority pyramid is incredibly enlightening.

Time Tracking with Laura Vanderkam: Making the most of your year means being intentional with your time. Figuring our where your time goes is the first step on that journey. Join author and time management expert Laura (and me) next week as we track our time for 168 hours (a whole week)! Sign up by Sunday, Jan. 9th at 6pm ET / 3pm PT. Register now!

Better Than Ever with Lisa Corrado: If your business is your main focus right now, don’t miss next week’s free masterclass “Create a Better Than Ever Strategy” with coach Lisa Corrado. Whenever I get bogged down or overwhelmed with planning or prioritizing, Lisa has the gift of making everything seem so much easier and simpler. Register here for this January 11th event at 4pm ET / 1pm PT.

I‘d love to hear what system or process works for you. And if you are having trouble getting started, need someone to brainstorm with, looking for a planning partner or want some accountability then let’s chat. I’d love to see how I can help!

How to Set Up Your Content Planning for Success

Behind the “Seens” with Lizzy Fox, Social Media & Brand Strategist at By Elizabeth Fox

Lizzy Fox is a Social Media Manager and Brand Strategist at By Elizabeth Fox. She joins me to discuss content planning. She shares her insights about content strategy with the goal to help us all get organized to be more effective, starting today.

Like all of us, Lizzy was affected by the whirlwind of events in 2020. The same exact situation happened to everyone around the world, and while people were losing jobs and businesses were shutting down, some people saw an opportunity.

Lizzy opted for a career change. Lucky for us, she chose to help a friend with her business startup. She discovered her passion for developing websites and content strategy.

“I exist to set others up to win”

Lizzy walks us through her thought process. Understanding the mindset and logic behind why you do things a certain way, or why things should even be done is critical when it comes to anything, especially managing the social media and content for your business.

It gets overwhelming in content management fast! Take a deep breath, grab your coffee, a pen and a notebook, and dive in.

Beginning with the end in mind and planning backward is a strategy that Lizzy also uses, but before you get there, let’s orient ourselves around what content strategy and social media management are.

Lizzy gives the most direct definition of and it’s worth memorizing.

Strategy is your why, management is how you accomplish it.

We dive into explaining how a developed strategy is executed so it grows your business. Lizzy encourages you to understand that setting up your strategy, which is largely researched-based, will help you navigate what you will and will not do.

“When you have that why that creates the boundaries in which you’re going to engage online.”

According to Lizzy, without a strong why, your brand and social accounts can just sound like NOISE. It’s also the problem that leads to burnout, which we are all trying to avoid.

Lizzy Pro Tip: set a timer as a “physical” boundary to get on social media to like, comment, or go live

While Lizzy gets you through the ABCs of content management, she also discusses resources and tools you can use to make planning the growth of your business and managing your social accounts much easier.

Now for some goodies!

Lizzy and I mention a few resources and tools that we find to be very useful and as promised I want to share those so you can check out what may or may not work for your business.

Build-in time, creativity, and efficiency into your content planning and it will remove much of the stress and frustration. Lizzy’s success with planning started with a scatterbrain 5th grade Lizzy that lost 10 jackets in one school year!

I know all the moms are cringing at the thought of this, but this is where Lizzy discovered her now-superpower to plan and execute so well.

Favorite Tools Mentioned:

Asana – a project management system that’s simple and team-friendly

Google Drive – Docs, sheets, calendars are all great ways to share real-time

Evernote  – personal blog post for ideation – digital file cabinet

Hootsuite – social media manager, great for 10+ clients specifically writers and business professionals

Later.com – great for creative, changes on the fly – analytics

There are tons of resources, and the key is to not get overwhelmed. Try something and see what you like, what you don’t, what features are an absolute must for you. If it’s too much of a struggle to use, chances are you won’t use it at all.

Lizzy Pro Tip: leave your digital project management system and calendars open on your computer so you always see them (don’t ignore them)

Lastly, although digital is incredible and has changed every one of our lives, sometimes pen and paper are still best to have. Lizzy likes to use a physical planner to also track personal life with business life, and that’s important.

Our Favorite Planners (for now)

Golden Coil Planners

Best Self Planner

Best Laid Plans Podcast – a podcast dedicated to planner addicts that we both adore!

“In order for me to remain in a creative space and not just be a systems person which can sometimes be where I hide in order to not show up the way I need to online […] I need to have spaces where I’m constantly pushed to do that.”

Continue to nurture your creativity and never neglect your self-care!

Build an incredible business and change lives for the better. Be confident knowing you can tackle social media and content planning with more clarity.

Want customized best practices, better content ideas, and a game plan for social media for your business? Check out Lizzy’s Content Strategy Intensive! Take the guesswork out of content planning and start showing up online like the expert you are!

Connect with Lizzy:

Lizzy Fox Website

Lizzy Fox Instagram

Interested in exploring where you are in your writer or author journey? Let’s chat! If you want to learn more about how to be seen, be found, be heard, please connect with me on the socials or let’s set up a call to chat.

Life Lessons Learned From A Folk Festival

Having recently spent several days in Newport at my beloved Newport Folk Festival (live music again – yay!), I’ve realized why I love it so much beyond the music. It’s about how it’s run which also dictates the amazing community (#folkfamily) that shows up faithfully year after year.

In thinking about things I’ve witnessed or experienced over my many years of dancing around the festival grounds of Fort Adams, I realize that much could be applied to the way we might want to live our lives, run our businesses or even just host our gatherings.

So here are 7 Powerful Lessons You Can Learn From A Folk Festival:

1. Don’t judge people by the way they look or act.

Say “Hi” instead of passing judgment. Your first impression might not always the best indicator of who or what a person is about. What if you simply said “Hello” or asked them a question about your common interests that brought you to this common place. My sister and I met terrific new folk friends that we are sure to stay connected to in the future simply by chatting on the ferry, at the check-in gate and while waiting for bands to take the stage.

2. Get out of your spot. You never know what might happen or who you might meet.

While staking your spot and throwing down the blanket and chairs at a festival is a typical first thing to do, don’t limit yourself to staying put in one spot, or you are certain to miss other shows, acts, people, food or scenes. Go with a sample mindset of giving everything a try if you can – it will greatly broaden your experience and your perspective.

3. Be an inspiring leader. It sets the tone for everything.

The executive producer of the Newport Folk Festival, Jay Sweet, is so meshed into the mission of continuing to the make the festival the best it can be, while carrying on 60 years of legacy, that it oozes out of every interaction he has with his team, the artists he curates, the attendees and with the public in general. He gets the best out of everyone – sometimes even more than anyone knew they could be.

4. Make sure you have a capable, fun team.

Even if you are a volunteer who has to tell people to move or clear a lane, or dump out a water bottle (if it’s not filled with water), it can be done in a fun, safe and community focused way that makes it engaging for all. Make sure your team, whether paid or volunteer, is having as much fun as the people they are supporting.

5. Over-communicate to manage expectations but still leave room for surprises.

From the first day of getting the news we had festival tickets, through the decision to cancel last year and reschedule this year, to showing up at the gate on the first day, every email, social media post and app alert from the festival organizers was clear about what was happening, what we could expect and what was expected of us, the attendees. And even though the line-up was typically announced last minute or “with surprises” that was OK because we had been told that would happen – and we even got excited guessing who might show up!

Photo by JJ and Michael Kingsbaker via Instagram.

6. Always leave room for collaboration and connection – you never know what magic might be made. 

Life shouldn’t be a solo act, it should be one of creation and connection and making things better. That’s what happens when artists from different bands, genres and locations get the opportunity to create music together and sit in on each other’s sets or even create their one-off bands (High Women, Middle Brother) or relationships. It pushes boundaries and limitations and opens up potential that often lasts well beyond a set on a stage. 

7. Fly your freak flag and/or dance like nobody’s watching.

A festival, especially this one, is one of people who are interested not only in the music but also the community. It’s a safe space, so go ahead and be you! Wear your festival outfit (or not), sing at the top of your lungs (even if it’s off key), and dance your heart away (even if your son calls it a bobble-head dance 😁 ). We only have one go around – and I can’t imagine you’ll regret it. 

And if you can’t tell by now, I love music festivals, particularly this one that I’ve been going to off and on since 1990 when I was scooping ice cream from the Ben & Jerry’s cart (see pic above) where I discovered this thing that is the Newport Folk Festival. If you’re curious about going to festivals or learning more about this one, let me know. Also, check out Season 2 of this wonderful podcast called “Festival Circuit” where you’ll hear about the festival as it unfolded in real time.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear what life experiences or life lessons you are learning right now!

Head over to my calendar here and let’s schedule some time to chat!

The Ideal Working Relationship Between an Author and Editor

Behind the “Seens” with Brooke White 

While Brooke and I met waayyyy back in our magazine publishing days, she has since worked in nearly every capacity of the book publishing world. She now balances her book work between the roles of ghostwriter and book editor. In addition to being one of the most fun AND funny people I know, Brooke has really smart things to say about helping authors.

Here are the highlights of our conversation:

Brooke’s journey from magazine publishing led to book publishing work (Hello South Beach Diet!) then a stint with a literary agency and onto a hybrid book publisher, on the editorial side. Now she has her own firm supporting authors as a ghostwriter or editor. 

Authors need a ghostwriter when they have a really great idea for a book but they don’t feel comfortable writing it themselves or they don’t have the time. One of the most important things ghostwriters can do is get into an author’s head and articulate their thoughts and their messages and also being able to do it in the author’s voice so that their brilliance, knowledge and insight comes through. 

Typically, people know when they need ghostwriting help. But for the best success, they need to be prepared to be real, be vulnerable and be raw! Everyone has a story and a why. Brooke likes to help them figure out how to pull that story out – as well as how to present it. 

Often, when working with a ghostwriter, the initial book idea takes a turn and the original story will evolve from where it began. Also, the process typically takes a little longer than expected. And for a truly successful book and rewarding experience, authors should still expect to be involved and collaboratively.

Now what happens if a person has a manuscript and feels ready to go? 

EVERY SINGLE BOOK NEEDS TO HAVE AN EDITOR!

No matter what. 

The role of a book editor is to elevate the author’s words of the book to be the best it can be.

A book editor is that crucial second pair of eyes that can go very deep and will help expose the weaknesses in the story, fix them and make the book so much better. 

When going the self-publishing route (versus traditional publishing when an editor is provided) an author needs to find the right editor. Otherwise, you are uploading a Word Document to be printed! Don’t do this! Also, we explore how a hybrid publisher works in the middle of traditional and self-publishing. 

What makes the best working relationship between authors and editors/ghostwriters

  • TRUST!
  • Respect for deadlines
  • Flexibility and patience for the process
  • Ability to think about the reader

Brooke thinks publishing a book and releasing it into the world is like birthing a baby!

If you are going the self or hybrid publishing path, it’s key to think about who you want on your team (yes, there are so many specialists!) to support you. In addition, to an editor, consider marketing support (yay marketing!) and also start doing your research about publishing partners as soon as you can!

Connect with Brooke by email, Linkedin, or check out her portfolio on her website

Interested in exploring where you are in your writer or author journey? Let’s chat! If you want to learn more about how to be seen, be found, be heard, please connect with me on the socials or let’s set up a call to chat.

Tips & Trends in Good Book Design

Behind the “Seens” with Book Designer George Stevens of G Sharp Design 

Even though George started with his design passion way back in high school and carried him through college, his journey to become a book designer was anything but straightforward. Being part of a publishing start-up out of college George got immediate exposure to client facing work. Nearly 12 years later he had grown into the “Creative Director” position with a staff larger than the entire company when he had started.

He started out on his own as a designer for branding, logos, posters and of course books. But his passion and attraction for book design led him to focus solely on becoming a book design shop, working primarily with self-publishing clients. 

George specifically does not call himself “creative director” now because he wanted to be back in the trenches, more involved creatively and less focused on the admin that had become too much a part of his job at the publishing company. He also has more nuggets of wisdom for designers who want to launch their own companies. 

How is book design different from general design?

What defines non-fiction book design is a balance of subjective and objective. 

Book design is not simply a cover or the pretty part of their book process. It is complex and holistic if done right. There are many pieces, steps and decisions to be made for the design of a book. 

The decision to hire a good book designer goes well beyond looking at a portfolio. 

A good book designer knows the practical application of how to do book design – and how to manage the book creation project. They become a project manager who understands how to work with their client and get the best book published.

What do authors need to know before working on their book design? Or here’s how George works: 

It’s helpful to have a thorough and robust process for creating the book design. 

It starts with an intake process of gathering information and goals for the book, and to learn about the author’s brand and audience. 

Ideally, the author, the designer and the market really LOVE the resulting project.

(And most clients “don’t want their book to look self-published”)

Then there are a few general concepts for review with the client. It’s an iterative process to get everything to the goals.

“Design is a process not a product.”

Book design “ is more than just a cover.”

What makes good book design is thinking about the book as a work of art beyond the cover – think layout, font, image presentation. Reflecting on the balance between subjective and objective, it has to be interesting and compelling – but it also has to work for UX – for the customer / reader experience. 

Also, don’t forget that there are big design differences between a printed book and an e-book. It’s a whole new layer of book design that requires thought, consideration and design. 

What makes great good book design? 

Book design is a speciality – and it is a process. It’s not a quick transaction. 

You need to expect to be involved in it. Being hands-on (in the right way) is key to successful book design. It’s a mindful collaboration. 

Great book design should be enduring. It’s going to look good for years. 

Non-fiction books are often a marketing asset that is part of your portfolio. They need to speak to the quality and caliber of who you are. Your book is a sum of who you are and what your expertise is – so it should reflect that. 

When so much goes into a manuscript, you should consider putting in the extra effort into the design. 

Remember that the cover is the doorway for people to enter into your book. Good formatting and design within your books will be the hallways that readers will travel. Good design is creating a great experience for the reader. 

Ideally, you should start working on your book design or with a book designer as early in the process as you can, but it is unique to each author and what his/ her book needs. As a baseline, however, when your title is defined is a great place to start!

How to connect with George on how to make self-publishing look better!

The best place to start is at his website.
Or connect with George in social media:
Instagram
Facebook

Interested in exploring where you are in your writer or author journey? Let’s chat! If you want to learn more about how to be seen, be found, be heard, please connect with me on the socials or let’s set up a call to chat.