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SPA Girls Podcast

Updated 3 days ago

Arts
Education
Books
How To
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Popular weekly podcast all about self-publishing from four successful indie authors.

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Popular weekly podcast all about self-publishing from four successful indie authors.

iTunes Ratings

45 Ratings
Average Ratings
40
0
2
1
2

Audio quality makes this unlistenable

By Julea065 - Nov 08 2019
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I really want to like this podcast, but I just can’t stand to listen to it. With so many hosts, someone should take the time to make sure their microphones are at similar levels so the listener isn’t constantly required to adjust the volume of the show.

Great information

By LizzzieLou - Nov 01 2019
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Lots of great info. I do wish that the host with a bird would leave the bird in the other room during recording. I also think they would all benefit from recording in a blanket fort so that the sound quality is better. But it's all worth it to hear the great info!

iTunes Ratings

45 Ratings
Average Ratings
40
0
2
1
2

Audio quality makes this unlistenable

By Julea065 - Nov 08 2019
Read more
I really want to like this podcast, but I just can’t stand to listen to it. With so many hosts, someone should take the time to make sure their microphones are at similar levels so the listener isn’t constantly required to adjust the volume of the show.

Great information

By LizzzieLou - Nov 01 2019
Read more
Lots of great info. I do wish that the host with a bird would leave the bird in the other room during recording. I also think they would all benefit from recording in a blanket fort so that the sound quality is better. But it's all worth it to hear the great info!
Cover image of SPA Girls Podcast

SPA Girls Podcast

Latest release on Jan 21, 2020

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Popular weekly podcast all about self-publishing from four successful indie authors.

Rank #1: SPA Girls Podcast – EP146 – Interview with Becca Syme on Writing Better Faster

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We had a fantastic guest this week in the form of Becca Syme, Cosy Mystery author, writing coach, teacher of the Write Better-Faster course, and podcaster at the Smarty Pants Marketing podcast.

Becca talks to us about how we can all write better-faster in our writing careers, using our own unique skills to improve your chances of success. It’s not about tips and techniques for getting more words per hour – it’s about understanding who you are as a writer, your strengths within that, and using those talents in the best way to ensure you are successful.

Aside from the fact the she was great fun, the most important takeaway we had from our conversation with Becca is that you don’t have to do everything exactly the same way as other people are doing it to be successful. In fact if it’s the wrong methodology for you, then you’re more likely to fail and feel bad about it, and that creates the opposite outcome from what you were trying to achieve. If you understand who you are, how you think things through and understand the world, then you can use that to create a system that will work for you and totally kick butt!

She was a fabulous guest and very thought provoking in terms of our own systems and thought processes, and we know you’ll feel the same way.

If you are at all interested in signing up for her course after listening to her talk today, then go to her website here: www.rlsyme.com and click on the big pink box. The current intake is closing asap (1 August 2018), and just so you know, both Wendy and Cheryl signed up for the course by the end of this podcast, so there are two fewer spots available… 🙂

Aug 01 2018

52mins

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Rank #2: SPA Girls Podcast – EP145 – Newsletter Ninja Tammi Labrecque

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This week we’re joined by the Newsletter Ninja, Tammi Labrecque, who talks to us about creating an amazing author newsletter that will help amp up your writing career.

She talks about why every author needs a newsletter, and how to turn the people who sign up for your list into super-fans who will buy every book you write.

Tammi also gives us a whole heap of tips on what kind of content to put into your newsletter, how to find the perfect subscribers for your books, and when to cut subscribers from your list.

It’s another tip-packed episode that you’ll want to listen to carefully. I know Shar took heaps of notes (She even broke out the shorthand…) and you will too!

It’s never too early to start your newsletter. Even if you only have a mailing list of friends and no book to promote, you can play around with whichever program you chose and find out how to make and send a newsletter long before you need to.

Before you jump in, give some thought about the person who might represent your main subscriber. This is called an avatar. What do they like to read? What is their demographic – age, location etc?

Now, decide on a program – mailer lite, MailChimp, and active campaign have free usage to a certain level. (There are loads more.)

Consider the look of your newsletter and how often you will send it. There will be templates to help on each platform. Pay attention to the welcome sequence and auto-responders to make your life easier!

Once you have a few subscribers, it’s a good idea to split them into lists and send the newsletter out over a period of a few days, especially around a release. This ensures that you have a steadier stream of sales which we know Amazon looks more favorably on.

Organic growth is still the best from links in the back of your books and from your website/Facebook etc. However, sites like Ryan Zee’s, or Melissa Storm’s Litring, can help to build your list faster. Just be careful and choose sites that have integrity and don’t overuse them otherwise you will be targeting the same people.

What should I put in my newsletter?

  • Make sure when you do send them that you have a Give to Ask ratio. Meaning – don’t only ask your subscribers to buy your book, but what you can give them.
  • Giveaways should be relevant and aimed at your loyal subscribers.
  • A free book.
  • A sample of your work.
  • A short story.
  • A snippet of your life.
  • Animal pictures
  • A cover reveal
  • A sale on your or another author’s book.
  • A competition
  • Recommend other authors in the same genre you like to read.

Cross-promote with other like-minded authors paying attention to genre, heat level and style of writing. You can do this with authors you know or find some on Bookfunnel or from groups you can join on Facebook.

Try sending your newsletter once a month for sales and then you could send another mid-way in the month with the freebies or giveaways.

The time to ramp up the selling should be when you have a new release.

Links

Tammi’s upcoming course comes highly recommended by many in the industry: Mailing List Expert

Her book Newsletter Ninja: How To Become An Author Mailing List Expert is out August 12, 2018

Find Tammi at www.indiepubintensive.com

Jul 25 2018

57mins

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Rank #3: SPA Girls Podcast – EP164 – Talking Reverse Harem with Steffanie Holmes

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We’ve talked about reverse harem a little bit on the show, but this week we decided to get someone on who knows all about it, so we could pick their brains… Mwahahaha…

We convinced USA Today Bestselling paranormal romance author Steffanie Holmes to come on the show and chat about exactly what reverse harem is, how she came to write reverse harem novels, what you need to know about it, and how she so successfully launched her recent series.

Steff is a very smart author, and she’s steeped in the reverse harem world, so not only was she was able to give us heaps of useful information for how to write and launch a reverse harem series, but  also insights into her writing style, her processes and ideas for marketing your books.

Cher’s main takeaway from the interview: I loved Steff’s idea of using a rough outline with just a few sentences per chapter to help speed along the writing process, but the key is to have an idea of how to begin and where the story ends. I might never write reverse harem, but I’m sure that even a simple outline would help when you’re trying to corral several heroes!

Trudi’s main takeaway from the interview: It was fascinating to be able to pick Steff’s brains on the ins and outs of the reverse harem genre (or relationship type, as Steff told us to call it), and to learn more about the reverse harem Facebook groups, and the ways she’s been able to do outreach for her new series.

LINKS:

Steff’s website: http://steffanieholmes.com/
Steff’s blog: https://www.steffmetal.com/

Follow the SPA Girls on facebook and twitter @spagirlspodcast

Dec 05 2018

59mins

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Rank #4: SPA Girls Podcast – EP183 -Facebook Ads with Maria Luis (Part Two)

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Are your Facebook ads as successful as you want them to be?

Do you wish you could make the kind of ads you’ve heard other authors boasting about?

This is the episode for you!

This week we delve back into Facebook Ads with Amazon Bestselling Author and all around lovely lady Maria Luis… She takes what she talked about last week, and adds to it, giving us the lowdown on how to make an ad convert into sales.

Maria is super knowledgeable and informative, and gives us some amazing tips and insider advice on how to create and run successful Facebook Ads. If you’ve been wondering about Facebook ads, or trying to figure out how to make ads that convert, this is the episode for you!

Apr 17 2019

55mins

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Rank #5: SPA Girls Podcast – EP210 – Slow & Steady to Six Figures with Serenity Woods

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Serenity Woods is a New Zealand self-publishing superstar with more than 70 books published (both traditionally and indie). She’s a USA Today bestselling author of sexy contemporary romances, most of which are set in the sub-tropical Northland of New Zealand, where she lives.

Serenity joins the SPA Girls again this week to discuss her publishing strategy and the road to six figures – hint, it’s a marathon, not a sprint!
Her SPA Girls Podcast episode from when she last appeared with us at the beginning of 2019 is one of our most downloaded episodes ever. This latest one is sure to be just as popular, with Serenity’s frank honesty, encouragement and keen insight into how you too can be a six-figure author.

Find Serenity at: https://www.serenitywoodsromance.com/

Oct 23 2019

42mins

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Rank #6: SPA Girls Podcast – EP182 – Facebook Ads with Maria Luis (Part One)

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Not sure about how Facebook Ads work? Need to learn the basics?

Join the SPA Girls as bestselling author Maria Luis breaks down Facebook Ads for us, from the beginning steps, to how to choose the best images; plus what to do, and what not to do, and everything in between! 

This is the first part of a two-part series on Facebook Ads from an author who has been successfully running her own ads for the last two years. It features loads of tips and advice for running ads, how to tell if it’s a good ad, and how to scale up once you’ve got an ad that’s working for you.

If you’ve been thinking about trying out Facebook ads, or have previously tried them only to be disappointed, then this is the episode for you! 

www.marialuis.org

www.spagirlspodcast.com

P.S. to see what ads an author’s page (or brand’s) is running, just go to facebook, click on Page Transparency (right hand column on desktop) and click SEE MORE – then scroll down to “Ads From This Page” and you’ll be able to view the ads they’re running.

Example of Maria’s facebook ad:

Apr 10 2019

50mins

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Rank #7: SPA Girls Podcast – EP170 – Get Your Head In The Game

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Are you motivated or disillusioned by all the “end of year earnings” screenshots some authors post? For some of us, it’s incredibly inspiring; others find it a distraction or even a bit depressing! There is no “right” answer – the trick is understanding yourself and this week we talk about the things you CAN control and why you should feel super positive about that!

We also discuss Melissa Storm’s Litring Reader Survey which shows some very encouraging reader buying behaviour that can help your sales without you having to spend a fortune on advertising.

We put our thinking caps on and came up with our Top Ten Things that a self publisher needs to be (in the SPA Girls’ opinion 😉 )

  1. Thick skinned.
  2. Be willing to take risks.
  3. Be willing to learn new skills.
  4. Don’t buy into the drama, and someone else’s bull****
  5. Find your tribe.
  6. Be professional.
  7. Stay focused.
  8. Celebrate your successes.
  9. Don’t lose the passion.
  10. Remember you’re a star.
    how

Notes & Links

Litring Reader Survey: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/3mv5gisv8m
https://www.litring.com/

Keen
to join the SPA Girls in a live workshop? Join our mailing list here and we’ll
let you know the minute we have workshop bookings open.  Info here: https://selfpublishingworkshop.co.nz/index.html

Come say hi on Facebook and Twitter
@spagirlspodcast  

Jan 15 2019

28mins

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Rank #8: SPA Girls Podcast – EP171 – Interview With Serenity Woods

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We are delighted to welcome romance author, Serenity Woods, to the SPA today. Serenity lives in the sub-tropical Northland of New Zealand. She is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and has been published since 2011 and self-published since 2013.

Serenity is incredibly business savvy and prolific. To date, she’s published 65 books across many different romance series, and she is a USA Today bestselling author, reaching #53 on the USA Today bestseller list with her Three Wise Men Box Set. Also, writing as Freya Robertson, she won the NZ Sir Julius Vogel Sci-Fi/Fantasy Award for Best Novel for her debut, Heartwood.

Serenity shares her self-publishing journey with us – the highs and the lows – from her modest start with a publishing a novella, to her success selling wide.  She also very honestly talks about her decision making behind moving to Amazon exclusively and the strategies for maximizing KU sales. 

We were so inspired by Serenity’s persistence, smarts and courage and promise this is an episode you’ll want to listen to more than once. Because it’s PACKED with so much information for you, we kept recording for an hour (and could have continued, but we’ll have Serenity back on the podcast again for sure 😉 ) 

Links:

Serenity Woods’ website: https://www.serenitywoodsromance.com/

KDP Rocket /Kindlepreneur: (see Dave Chesson’s free videos for AMS ads) https://kindlepreneur.com/book-marketing-101/

SPA Girls Podcast website: http://www.selfpublishingauthorspodcast.com/

Jan 23 2019

59mins

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Rank #9: SPA Girls Podcast – EP178 – Newsletter Strategies with Larissa Reynolds, Part 2

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What’s the one objection you have to overcome to get readers to buy your book?

That question is the cliffhanger that Larissa Reynolds left us on in part 1. And now, here it is! The episode where you get to find out the answer…

In this second episode about newsletters, Larissa Reynolds talks to us about how to sell your books consistently via your list. 

She’s been writing newsletters for more than 20 years, and says it’s about more than just sending regular emails. It’s about knowing your readers, and making sure you’re approaching them in the right way.

She talks to us about how to get the right mindset with regards to your newsletter, how to focus the newsletter in the right direction, and how to ensure you’re connecting with your readers so they want to go out and buy your books.

Larissa’s website: www.authorlistlab.com

Mar 12 2019

46mins

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Rank #10: SPA Girls Podcast – EP176 – How to Speak Self Publishing

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Ever listened to someone talking about self publishing and been mystified about what they’re actually saying? Maybe understood about one in every three words?

It’s a common problem, and one we sometimes come across ourselves, as things change in the industry and new jargon hits the streets.

Added to that, even if you decide to look it up online, it’s sometimes not easy to understand.

That’s where the SPA Girls come in. This episode we go through all the self publishing jargon we could think of, and explain what it is, and talk a little about why you might need to know each term and how it’s useful for you in your Indie career. 

This episode is packed with great tips around each word, and will hopefully give you an idea of what on earth is going on! 

Self-Publishing Glossary / Jargon

A

Active
Campaign

Platform
for your mailing list. In return for a monthly fee, they host your list, and
you can send out emails via their platform. They integrate with your website to
manage the sign ups, unsubscribes etc. Expensive platform, but allows a lot of
flexibility in terms of sending out emails.

Advertising
lists / email marketing promotion sites

Services
that have large email lists that they use to promote discounted and free books.
Authors pay a fee to the service, in return for their book being sent out to
the readers on the list. The most well known service with millions of readers
is BookBub. Other options include eReader News Today (ENT), FreeBooksy,
Bargainbooksy, Robin Reads and Books Barbarian.

Affiliate
Links

Services
like Amazon Associates offer the opportunity to receive a bounty in the form of
a percentage of the profit for promoting sales of their products.

Algorithm

An
algorithm is a set of rules used by computer programmers, usually to
automatically analyse and sort big data (large volumes of information). Amazon
has an extremely sophisticated algorithm that helps them figure out which books
are bestsellers, which are more popular, and which ones should be promoted to
which readers. There is a lot of information on the magical Amazon algorithm, because
many believe catching the algorithm helps with sales.

Amazon

The
main ebook publishing platform in the world. Can purchase both ebook and print
books via Amazon. Accounts for 80% of sales of ebooks. It uses an algorithm to
determine which books will be promoted.

ARCs
(Advanced Reader Copy)

Copies
of your book that you give out to your ARC or Street Team so they can read the
book before it’s out, and put reviews up on the various platforms for you when
it goes up. Giving out ARCs can help with promotion and marketing—the more you
give out, the more buzz you can garner.

Author
Bio

About
the author blurb.

Author
Brand/Platform

An
author brand is the feeling/general vibe surrounding your author personality.
It should be consistent with the kind of books you write. For example an author
who writes sweet contemporary novels shouldn’t write a blog full of the f-word.
It is to do with how your readers see you, the author. An author platform can
include everything from your website, your newsletter, your facebook page, any
facebook groups you run, or are in.

Author
Central

The
Amazon website where you put up your author details and connect your books to
your Amazon author page. You can also check your overall author ranking, your
book ranking and your sales ranking.

Author
page (Amazon)

A
separate page set up under your profile, for you to use for your author
activities, and also Facebook Ads.

B

Back
matter

This
is the information found at the back of your book, after the main novel. It can
include the author’s note, newsletter sign up page, or excerpt of the next book
in the series at the back. Or any combination thereof.

Bisac
Code

BISAC
(Book Industry Standards And Communications) subject codes are essentially
genre codes used by retailers and are part of your metadata. They help
categorize your book in the primary genre, topic and theme so readers can find
them when searching the online store. Choose Bisac codes that accurately and
clearly describe the content of your book as a whole.

Beta
readers

Readers
who will read your book before you publish to give you feedback on any issues
or problems with your book. They read it as a reader, not an editor, and will
generally find things like inconsistencies, plot holes and character problems,
and some grammar issues.

Blog
tour

Part
of promotion of a new release book, authors can pay to go around several blogs
by readers and other people interested in books in your genre. They can include
posting and excerpt, a post written by yourself, or a question and answer
session. They used to be very effective, not sure that they are considered
particularly effective any more.

Blurb
/Book Description

The
information about your book that gives readers the hook, and sells the book to
potential readers. In the old system of traditional publishing, a blurb was
also the quote that you got from other authors on the cover saying how much
they loved your book.

It
is most definitely not a description in the sense that you must describe the
plot like you would in a synopsis.

C

Call
to Action or CTA

Part
of the sales jargon. It is the one thing that you want your audience to do
after looking at your product. It might be buy the book, buy the next book, or
join your mailing list.

Categories

The
categories that your book falls into on the various sales platforms that help
readers find the books they love to read. They used to go by the BISAC (Book
Industry Standards and Communications) system which was used by the traditional
publishing industry, but in recent years this has evolved, especially on
Amazon, and they now use a wider selection of categories.

Copyright

Automatically protects your original works. You may use the
symbol © to help you demonstrate that you claim copyright in a particu- lar
work, but you do not need to. Protects original works. Copyright is automatic
in NZ; in the US you can to apply to register it.

Copy
editing/ Line editing

Usually
used interchangeably, this level of editing will fix problems with grammar and
spelling, but will also go more in-depth and find inconsistencies of plot or
character, sentence structure issues, etc etc.

CreateSpace

A
print on demand service owned by Amazon where Indie authors can use a pdf print
file, an ISBN and a cover to create print books to be sold at Amazon. (And
other places if you want to do extended distribution.) It has just been
announced that this service is being discontinued, because Amazon also has KDP
Print.

D

DRM

Digital
rights management. It is possible to check that you want to have DRM on your
ebooks, but it’s generally considered a bad idea.

Draft2Digital

An
aggregator who you can use to put your ebooks up to all the different platforms
if you choose to go wide (instead of being exclusive with Amazon). You can also
do audiobooks through Draft2Digital.

Developmental
editing / substantive editing/ structural editing /content editing

This
is a high level critique of your book, usually commenting on the overall
structure and storyline, and usually working with you to fix the overall book.
They won’t make changes to grammar and spelling.

E

Epub
files

The
type of file you will need format your manuscript into to publish your book to
be published by Kobo, iBooks, Nook etc (basically everyone else except Amazon).
.EPUB

F

Facebook
profile / Facebook Page

Your
facebook profile is your personal profile on Facebook. Facebook frowns on using
this for business. Instead your profile creates a Facebook Page for your author
name—this allows you to run ads from that page.

Final
Draft

The
completely edited and polished final version of your book that you’re going to
put up on the publishing platforms.

First
draft

Your
first version of your novel. Your first draft should never be the draft that
goes up on the publishing platforms.

Foreign
Rights

Usually
rights are for certain areas, and you can sell your print/ebook rights
separately.

Formatting

Formatting
refers to the process of changing a novel that is in a format such as word or
scrivener into a file type that can be used on one of the sales platforms like
Kobo, Amazon, or iBooks.

Forums

An
online forum such as Romance Divas where you can go and talk with other authors
about publishing, writing craft and anything else. It’s all in written form.

Front
matter

This
is the information found at the front of your book, before the main novel. This
could include the copyright page, your news- letter offer, the contents and the
dedication page.

G

Goodreads

A
social media platform for readers. Includes lists of books, people can mark
their favourites, talk in forums with other readers about their favourite
books, and give ratings for the books. Ratings on Goodreads tend to be harsher
than on Amazon, and the users can be quite vicious if they feel authors are
going on there and trying to sell or market their books aggressively.

Google
Play

A
publishing platform for ebooks, run by google. Locked to new accounts.

H

Hybrid
author

Someone
who is both traditionally and Indie published.

I

iBooks

A
publishing platform for ebooks, owned by Apple. It uses a curated system to
decide on which books are promoted.

Indie
Publishing

Another
word for self publishing (used by some people in preference to self publishing,
because of the negative connotations to SP.) In- die stands for Independent.
Indie authors are business owners who must organise everything themselves (even
if it is simply organis- ing the people who are going to do aspects of the work
for them).

Instafreebie

A
promotional tool used to gather newsletter subscribers, usuall via a free book
(called a reader magnet) or cross promotions with other authors. It worked
really well for a while when it first came out, but its effectiveness has
waned.

ISBN

The
unique number used in the publishing industry to count the number of books and
estimate sales. It’s not necessary to have an ISBN on Amazon, they will asign
an ASIN to your book, which is their own internal numbering.

In
the US it costs a fair amount of money to purchase ISBNs, but in New Zealand
they are available for free from the National Library. You need a separate ISBN
for each format of your book (ebook, print, etc), and if you’ve substantially
changed the book.

ITTN/ITIN/EIN

Tax
numbers for the US systems. We no longer need them, as we have a tax agreement
with the US, which means we can put our own NZ tax numbers into the system.

J

Jutoh

A
computer programme that can be used to format book files for publishing. Can be
used on both PC and Mac.

K

KDP
Print

Amazon’s
print on demand service, started after it purchased CreateSpace. It is done
through the same dashboard as KDP, making it quite convenient.

Keywords

In
this context they are the words used by the agregators to help describe your
book for potential readers. For example Amazon allows you to have seven
keywords or phrases, and you should find ones that describe your book’s main
tropes and genre traditions.

Kindle
Direct Publishing or KDP

Kindle
Direct Publishing is the publishing platform used by authors to put their books
onto Amazon.

Kindle
Unlimited or KU

Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service that allows Amazon
users in the UK and US to access a large selection of titles from the Kindle
store for a single monthly payment. Subscribers can keep up to ten titles to
read on any Amazon device or Kindle reading app and there are no due dates.

For authors, to have your books available to KU readers, you
must be part of the Select programme, and therefore exclusive to Amazon. (This
exclusivity is only for ebooks, you are able to put print on demand books on
other sites.)

Payment for authors whose books are in the KU service is via
KENP, or pages read. Each month there is a pool of money allocated to be shared
among all eligible authors, which is worked out on a per page read basis.

Kobo

A
publishing platform for ebooks, owned by parent company Rakuten. Publishes to
more than 60 countries worldwide. It uses a curated system to decide on the
books being promoted and pushed through the service.

L-N

MailChimp

Platform
for your mailing list. In return for a monthly fee, they host your list, and you
can send out emails via their platform. They integrate with your website to
manage the sign ups, unsubscribes etc. Probably one of the most well known
mailing platforms.

MailerLite

Platform
for your mailing list. In return for a monthly fee, they host your list, and
you can send out emails via their platform. They integrate with your website,
and manage the sign ups, unsubscribes etc. Excellent back end, a few
deliverability issues, good price.

Meta
data

Background
information used to help searches. This includes keywords and categories used
on retailers. On a website, it is the back- ground information that you have on
the site that is not visible to visitors, but helps them be found in search
engines.

Mobi
files

The
type of file you will need to format your manuscript into to publish your book
to Amazon. .MOBI

Netgalley

A
service, mostly used by traditional publishers, to provide ARCs of books due to
be released to people in the industry such as librarians, bloggers, reviewers
etc. You pay a monthly or yearly fee for the privilege.

Newsletters/mailing
list

This
is a personal mailing list of people who have signed up to hear from you
specifically about your books. Mailing lists need to be or- ganised via a
mailing list platform. Authors can send out to their list weekly, fortnightly,
monthly or whenever they release a new book.

OP

Permafree

Permafree
means a book is permanently free. It’s a pricing strategy where your ebook
(usually first in series) is permanently free on all the booksellers. It is not
possible to just put a book permanently free on Amazon, but you can do it by
having the book wide, and making it free on at least two other platforms (Kobo
and iBooks) and then letting Amazon know and ask nicely for them to pricematch.

POD

Print
on Demand. This is a service that will print individual books, rather than
requiring publishers to print thousands of books at a time. New digital
technology has enabled this kind of service to be viable.

Podcasts

On-demand
audio shows, that can be listened to anywhere. A must listen is
www.selfpublishingauthorspodcast.com 😉

Preorders

Used
on Amazon, where you can put your book up to be sold, before the actual book is
able to purchased.

Proofreading

The
last part of the editing process, the proofreader will pick up grammatical
errors, and spelling mistakes etc, but will not comment on structural,
developmental or larger issues.

Publishing
Aggregators

A publishing aggregator is a service that lets you upload your
manuscript in one place, and then distributes your work to multiple
channels—the retailers who sell you work, such as Apple iBooks, Kobo, Amazon,
and more.

QR

Reader
Magnet

A
free book that you use to entice people to start reading your series, or to get
onto your mailing list.

Reviews

Readers
leave reviews of your ebooks on Amazon, and Amazon is rumoured to use these
reviews (possibly both the overall score and the number of reviews) as part of
their magical algorithm. There are rules surrounding who may leave reviews of
your books – family and friends are not allowed to leave a review and you can’t
offer anything other than an ARC in return for an honest review.

S

Scrivener

A
writing programme used by authors. It allows for notes, extra information,
photographs, extra folders and everything else you might need to be kept all in
one place while you write.

Smashwords

An
aggregator to put ebooks up on all the different platforms. One of the first
aggregator platforms.

Social
media platforms

All
the different platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, SnapChat,
etc etc.

Street
team/Review team

The
loyal readers who will read your ARCs before your book is published, and give
you reviews on the different platforms once your book is live. They can also
help with word of mouth, and other promotional activities.

Synopsis

A
description of the plot of your book.

T

Target
Audience

The
people who will most enjoy your books.

Traditional
Publisher

The
traditional publishing houses who have a team of editors, marketers,
booksellers who purchase the rights to sell your books to bookstores, both
online and bricks and mortar. They take a large percentage of the profits in
order to pay for the printing, distribution and housing of print books. They
are the traditional “gatekeepers” to publishing.

Trope

Commonly
recurring themes or ideas in a genre. Different genres will have different
tropes, for example romance tropes include am- nesia, enemies to lovers, secret
baby. Urban Fantasy tropes include kick-butt heroines, magic in an urban
environment. Epic fantasy tropes include an outsider hero, or an evil king who
must be defeated.

U-Z

Universal
Link (Bitly)

A
trackable link that you can use in your books, on your website or other places
where you use links to obtain data.

Vellum

Vellum
is a computer program that can be used on Mac computers to format ebooks.

Wide
vs Exclusive

Wide
is when you have your books up on all the different platforms like Kobo,
Amazon, iBooks, and Nook. Exclusive is when you only have your books up on Amazon,
are part of the Select program and have your books in KU.

When
you are on Amazon but not in KU or Select, you earn money via book sales but
not page reads.

A

Active
Campaign

Platform
for your mailing list. In return for a monthly fee, they host your list, and
you can send out emails via their platform. They integrate with your website to
manage the sign ups, unsubscribes etc. Expensive platform, but allows a lot of
flexibility in terms of sending out emails.

Advertising
lists / email marketing promotion sites

Services
that have large email lists that they use to promote discounted and free books.
Authors pay a fee to the service, in return for their book being sent out to
the readers on the list. The most well known service with millions of readers
is BookBub. Other options include eReader News Today (ENT), FreeBooksy,
Bargainbooksy, Robin Reads and Books Barbarian.

Affiliate
Links

Services
like Amazon Associates offer the opportunity to receive a bounty in the form of
a percentage of the profit for promoting sales of their products.

Algorithm

An
algorithm is a set of rules used by computer programmers, usually to
automatically analyse and sort big data (large volumes of information). Amazon
has an extremely sophisticated algorithm that helps them figure out which books
are bestsellers, which are more popular, and which ones should be promoted to
which readers. There is a lot of information on the magical Amazon algorithm, because
many believe catching the algorithm helps with sales.

Amazon

The
main ebook publishing platform in the world. Can purchase both ebook and print
books via Amazon. Accounts for 80% of sales of ebooks. It uses an algorithm to
determine which books will be promoted.

ARCs
(Advanced Reader Copy)

Copies
of your book that you give out to your ARC or Street Team so they can read the
book before it’s out, and put reviews up on the various platforms for you when
it goes up. Giving out ARCs can help with promotion and marketing—the more you
give out, the more buzz you can garner.

Author
Bio

About
the author blurb.

Author
Brand/Platform

An
author brand is the feeling/general vibe surrounding your author personality.
It should be consistent with the kind of books you write. For example an author
who writes sweet contemporary novels shouldn’t write a blog full of the f-word.
It is to do with how your readers see you, the author. An author platform can
include everything from your website, your newsletter, your facebook page, any
facebook groups you run, or are in.

Author
Central

The
Amazon website where you put up your author details and connect your books to
your Amazon author page. You can also check your overall author ranking, your
book ranking and your sales ranking.

Author
page (Amazon)

A
separate page set up under your profile, for you to use for your author
activities, and also Facebook Ads.

B

Back
matter

This
is the information found at the back of your book, after the main novel. It can
include the author’s note, newsletter sign up page, or excerpt of the next book
in the series at the back. Or any combination thereof.

Bisac
Code

BISAC
(Book Industry Standards And Communications) subject codes are essentially
genre codes used by retailers and are part of your metadata. They help
categorize your book in the primary genre, topic and theme so readers can find
them when searching the online store. Choose Bisac codes that accurately and
clearly describe the content of your book as a whole.

Beta
readers

Readers
who will read your book before you publish to give you feedback on any issues
or problems with your book. They read it as a reader, not an editor, and will
generally find things like inconsistencies, plot holes and character problems,
and some grammar issues.

Blog
tour

Part
of promotion of a new release book, authors can pay to go around several blogs
by readers and other people interested in books in your genre. They can include
posting and excerpt, a post written by yourself, or a question and answer
session. They used to be very effective, not sure that they are considered
particularly effective any more.

Blurb
/Book Description

The
information about your book that gives readers the hook, and sells the book to
potential readers. In the old system of traditional publishing, a blurb was
also the quote that you got from other authors on the cover saying how much
they loved your book.

It
is most definitely not a description in the sense that you must describe the
plot like you would in a synopsis.

C

Call
to Action or CTA

Part
of the sales jargon. It is the one thing that you want your audience to do
after looking at your product. It might be buy the book, buy the next book, or
join your mailing list.

Categories

The
categories that your book falls into on the various sales platforms that help
readers find the books they love to read. They used to go by the BISAC (Book
Industry Standards and Communications) system which was used by the traditional
publishing industry, but in recent years this has evolved, especially on
Amazon, and they now use a wider selection of categories.

Copyright

Automatically protects your original works. You may use the
symbol © to help you demonstrate that you claim copyright in a particu- lar
work, but you do not need to. Protects original works. Copyright is automatic
in NZ; in the US you can to apply to register it.

Copy
editing/ Line editing

Usually
used interchangeably, this level of editing will fix problems with grammar and
spelling, but will also go more in-depth and find inconsistencies of plot or
character, sentence structure issues, etc etc.

CreateSpace

A
print on demand service owned by Amazon where Indie authors can use a pdf print
file, an ISBN and a cover to create print books to be sold at Amazon. (And
other places if you want to do extended distribution.) It has just been
announced that this service is being discontinued, because Amazon also has KDP
Print.

D

DRM

Digital
rights management. It is possible to check that you want to have DRM on your
ebooks, but it’s generally considered a bad idea.

Draft2Digital

An
aggregator who you can use to put your ebooks up to all the different platforms
if you choose to go wide (instead of being exclusive with Amazon). You can also
do audiobooks through Draft2Digital.

Developmental
editing / substantive editing/ structural editing /content editing

This
is a high level critique of your book, usually commenting on the overall
structure and storyline, and usually working with you to fix the overall book.
They won’t make changes to grammar and spelling.

E

Epub
files

The
type of file you will need format your manuscript into to publish your book to
be published by Kobo, iBooks, Nook etc (basically everyone else except Amazon).
.EPUB

F

Facebook
profile / Facebook Page

Your
facebook profile is your personal profile on Facebook. Facebook frowns on using
this for business. Instead your profile creates a Facebook Page for your author
name—this allows you to run ads from that page.

Final
Draft

The
completely edited and polished final version of your book that you’re going to
put up on the publishing platforms.

First
draft

Your
first version of your novel. Your first draft should never be the draft that
goes up on the publishing platforms.

Foreign
Rights

Usually
rights are for certain areas, and you can sell your print/ebook rights
separately.

Formatting

Formatting
refers to the process of changing a novel that is in a format such as word or
scrivener into a file type that can be used on one of the sales platforms like
Kobo, Amazon, or iBooks.

Forums

An
online forum such as Romance Divas where you can go and talk with other authors
about publishing, writing craft and anything else. It’s all in written form.

Front
matter

This
is the information found at the front of your book, before the main novel. This
could include the copyright page, your news- letter offer, the contents and the
dedication page.

G

Goodreads

A
social media platform for readers. Includes lists of books, people can mark
their favourites, talk in forums with other readers about their favourite
books, and give ratings for the books. Ratings on Goodreads tend to be harsher
than on Amazon, and the users can be quite vicious if they feel authors are
going on there and trying to sell or market their books aggressively.

Google
Play

A
publishing platform for ebooks, run by google. Locked to new accounts.

H

Hybrid
author

Someone
who is both traditionally and Indie published.

I

iBooks

A
publishing platform for ebooks, owned by Apple. It uses a curated system to
decide on which books are promoted.

Indie
Publishing

Another
word for self publishing (used by some people in preference to self publishing,
because of the negative connotations to SP.) In- die stands for Independent.
Indie authors are business owners who must organise everything themselves (even
if it is simply organis- ing the people who are going to do aspects of the work
for them).

Instafreebie

A
promotional tool used to gather newsletter subscribers, usuall via a free book
(called a reader magnet) or cross promotions with other authors. It worked
really well for a while when it first came out, but its effectiveness has
waned.

ISBN

The
unique number used in the publishing industry to count the number of books and
estimate sales. It’s not necessary to have an ISBN on Amazon, they will asign
an ASIN to your book, which is their own internal numbering.

In
the US it costs a fair amount of money to purchase ISBNs, but in New Zealand
they are available for free from the National Library. You need a separate ISBN
for each format of your book (ebook, print, etc), and if you’ve substantially
changed the book.

ITTN/ITIN/EIN

Tax
numbers for the US systems. We no longer need them, as we have a tax agreement
with the US, which means we can put our own NZ tax numbers into the system.

J

Jutoh

A
computer programme that can be used to format book files for publishing. Can be
used on both PC and Mac.

K

KDP
Print

Amazon’s
print on demand service, started after it purchased CreateSpace. It is done
through the same dashboard as KDP, making it quite convenient.

Keywords

In
this context they are the words used by the agregators to help describe your
book for potential readers. For example Amazon allows you to have seven
keywords or phrases, and you should find ones that describe your book’s main
tropes and genre traditions.

Kindle
Direct Publishing or KDP

Kindle
Direct Publishing is the publishing platform used by authors to put their books
onto Amazon.

Kindle
Unlimited or KU

Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service that allows Amazon
users in the UK and US to access a large selection of titles from the Kindle
store for a single monthly payment. Subscribers can keep up to ten titles to
read on any Amazon device or Kindle reading app and there are no due dates.

For authors, to have your books available to KU readers, you
must be part of the Select programme, and therefore exclusive to Amazon. (This
exclusivity is only for ebooks, you are able to put print on demand books on
other sites.)

Payment for authors whose books are in the KU service is via
KENP, or pages read. Each month there is a pool of money allocated to be shared
among all eligible authors, which is worked out on a per page read basis.

Kobo

A
publishing platform for ebooks, owned by parent company Rakuten. Publishes to
more than 60 countries worldwide. It uses a curated system to decide on the
books being promoted and pushed through the service.

L-N

MailChimp

Platform
for your mailing list. In return for a monthly fee, they host your list, and you
can send out emails via their platform. They integrate with your website to
manage the sign ups, unsubscribes etc. Probably one of the most well known
mailing platforms.

MailerLite

Platform
for your mailing list. In return for a monthly fee, they host your list, and
you can send out emails via their platform. They integrate with your website,
and manage the sign ups, unsubscribes etc. Excellent back end, a few
deliverability issues, good price.

Meta
data

Background
information used to help searches. This includes keywords and categories used
on retailers. On a website, it is the back- ground information that you have on
the site that is not visible to visitors, but helps them be found in search
engines.

Mobi
files

The
type of file you will need to format your manuscript into to publish your book
to Amazon. .MOBI

Netgalley

A
service, mostly used by traditional publishers, to provide ARCs of books due to
be released to people in the industry such as librarians, bloggers, reviewers
etc. You pay a monthly or yearly fee for the privilege.

Newsletters/mailing
list

This
is a personal mailing list of people who have signed up to hear from you
specifically about your books. Mailing lists need to be or- ganised via a
mailing list platform. Authors can send out to their list weekly, fortnightly,
monthly or whenever they release a new book.

OP

Permafree

Permafree
means a book is permanently free. It’s a pricing strategy where your ebook
(usually first in series) is permanently free on all the booksellers. It is not
possible to just put a book permanently free on Amazon, but you can do it by
having the book wide, and making it free on at least two other platforms (Kobo
and iBooks) and then letting Amazon know and ask nicely for them to pricematch.

POD

Print
on Demand. This is a service that will print individual books, rather than
requiring publishers to print thousands of books at a time. New digital
technology has enabled this kind of service to be viable.

Podcasts

On-demand
audio shows, that can be listened to anywhere. A must listen is
www.selfpublishingauthorspodcast.com 😉

Preorders

Used
on Amazon, where you can put your book up to be sold, before the actual book is
able to purchased.

Proofreading

The
last part of the editing process, the proofreader will pick up grammatical
errors, and spelling mistakes etc, but will not comment on structural,
developmental or larger issues.

Publishing
Aggregators

A publishing aggregator is a service that lets you upload your
manuscript in one place, and then distributes your work to multiple
channels—the retailers who sell you work, such as Apple iBooks, Kobo, Amazon,
and more.

QR

Reader
Magnet

A
free book that you use to entice people to start reading your series, or to get
onto your mailing list.

Reviews

Readers
leave reviews of your ebooks on Amazon, and Amazon is rumoured to use these
reviews (possibly both the overall score and the number of reviews) as part of
their magical algorithm. There are rules surrounding who may leave reviews of
your books – family and friends are not allowed to leave a review and you can’t
offer anything other than an ARC in return for an honest review.

S

Scrivener

A
writing programme used by authors. It allows for notes, extra information,
photographs, extra folders and everything else you might need to be kept all in
one place while you write.

Smashwords

An
aggregator to put ebooks up on all the different platforms. One of the first
aggregator platforms.

Social
media platforms

All
the different platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, SnapChat,
etc etc.

Street
team/Review team

The
loyal readers who will read your ARCs before your book is published, and give
you reviews on the different platforms once your book is live. They can also
help with word of mouth, and other promotional activities.

Synopsis

A
description of the plot of your book.

T

Target
Audience

The
people who will most enjoy your books.

Traditional
Publisher

The
traditional publishing houses who have a team of editors, marketers,
booksellers who purchase the rights to sell your books to bookstores, both
online and bricks and mortar. They take a large percentage of the profits in
order to pay for the printing, distribution and housing of print books. They
are the traditional “gatekeepers” to publishing.

Trope

Commonly
recurring themes or ideas in a genre. Different genres will have different
tropes, for example romance tropes include am- nesia, enemies to lovers, secret
baby. Urban Fantasy tropes include kick-butt heroines, magic in an urban
environment. Epic fantasy tropes include an outsider hero, or an evil king who
must be defeated.

U-Z

Universal
Link (Bitly)

A
trackable link that you can use in your books, on your website or other places
where you use links to obtain data.

Vellum

Vellum
is a computer program that can be used on Mac computers to format ebooks.

Wide
vs Exclusive

Wide
is when you have your books up on all the different platforms like Kobo,
Amazon, iBooks, and Nook. Exclusive is when you only have your books up on Amazon,
are part of the Select program and have your books in KU.

When
you are on Amazon but not in KU or Select, you earn money via book sales but
not page reads.

Feb 27 2019

28mins

Play

Rank #11: SPA Girls Podcast – EP151 – Interview With Grace Burrowes

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This week we have the delightful Grace Burrowes on the show, chatting to Cheryl and Wendy about her career, why she started writing, and how she stays authentic, and why she uses blogging to connect to readers.

A New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author, Grace says she’s a recovering child welfare attorney, who for years turned to the reliable HEA of romance novels to balance out the stress in her life as a litigator.

This is a delightful interview with a smart, savvy author who is very open about her writing, her world view, and her career.

For more information about Grace, go to: https://graceburrowes.com/

(And if you want to see a great tag line for a romance author, admire Grace’s one right here: I believe in love. ) 

Sep 05 2018

34mins

Play

Rank #12: SPA Girls Podcast – EP202 – Bookbub Ads With Melissa Storm

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If you’ve been thinking about trying out Bookbub ads, then this is the episode for you! 

Melissa Storm was at the RWNZ conference in Christchurch with us, and we stole her away and made her tell us all about Bookbub ads just for you, our lovely listeners… 

From what Bookbub ads actually are, to what you’ll need to set one up, and all the tips and tricks in between, Melissa gives us everything you’ll need to be successful. 

Don’t miss this episode, it’s a doozy! 

For those of you who want the special code for the Bookbub ads course, go to Melissa’s site: https://your-author-engine.teachable.com/

As per the podcast, put in the code for a special discount: HOKEYPOKEY

Aug 28 2019

36mins

Play

Rank #13: SPA Girls Podcast – EP167 – Scheduling To Save Time

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If you’re trying to find a few more minutes in your day for writing, then this episode is for you. We talk about how you can use scheduling to be more productive, free up time and get stuff done.

Each of the SPA Girls uses different kinds of scheduling to make certain repetitive tasks easier and faster, and we share them all for you in this informative episode!

SHOW NOTES: 

WHAT IS SCHEDULING? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
It’s easy to let the time fly away through your fingers, telling yourself it’s only five minutes on Facebook, a quick check on Twitter. But if you add up all the procrastination, the tiny bits of time each day that you spend doing nothing… It’s scary how much time you actually spend NOT WRITING.

Scheduling your day, your time is one way to claim back your writing time, to make sure you’re using your day to the best of your ability.

We’re all busy, have limited time in our day. Scheduling is the best way to claim back more hours in your day for what’s important. Writing!

There are several different aspects to scheduling. One is scheduling your day, planning out what you’re going to do. You could also schedule on a longer term basis, like how much you want to write that week etc. You can also schedule things like Facebook posts ahead of time, using blocks of time, instead of small amounts of time all over the show.

HOW DO YOU SCHEDULE?
There are different ways you can schedule. Here are a few examples:

  • Chunking – where you plan your day in chunks of time, and do something for that period of time, then stop.
  • Timed activities – You could do on the hour writing, so that at 9am, you start writing, until you read 1000 words, then you can stop and do something else (like washing, or marketing or whatever) and then at 10am an alarm goes off and you sit back down and write another 1000 words. Same again at 11am and so on.
  • Plan big and then make it small – Get a diary, plan out what you want to achieve over the whole year, divide it into manageable weekly and daily chunks, and then use those goals in your daily work like.
  • Write lists – Write daily lists and make sure you cross everything off the list
  • Schedule social media in chunks – Instead of going in every day for a few minutes and then getting lost in the abyss of social media, try scheduling posts in chunks on one day a week. Sunday night, do all your posts for hte week, and then you just have to pop back in to check on comments.
  • Working out a writing schedule
  • Dividing the time allocated to your writing into writing time, and marketing time etc
  • Work out when you do your best work – are you a morning person or an evening person? Monitor yourself for a few weeks, work out when you’re doing your best work, and then make sure you save that time for writing.
  • Also collect data – each time you sit down to write, make sure you write down how much time you spent, how many words you wrote. That will help with planning your schedule.
  • Know how you work best – work out your writing routine. (music, silence etc)

SETTING GOALS AND PLANNING AHEAD

  • Set goals that will motivate you to stick to your schedule
  • Parkinson’s law – things will expand to fit the time you have.
  • Pareto rule – 80/20 – get the data

WHAT TOOLS CAN YOU USE TO SCHEDULE?
Facebook Scheduling
Keep a file with quotes or facebook pre-prepared tiles/Share others posts
To schedule a post:
Start creating your post at the top of your Page’s timeline.
Click next to Publish and select Schedule.
Below Publication, select the date and time when you want the post to publish.
Click Schedule

Twitter Scheduling
Keep in the same file as above and use the Facebook content that you have prepared/Share others posts
Use Tweetdeck which is a free app. https://tweetdeck.twitter.com

  • pomodoro,
  • Cut and paste document/outlook shortcut keys.
  • writing with others
  • Sprints, in person or online.

HELPFUL LINKS:
Bria Quinlin’s Author Life Planner: http://briaquinlan.com/authorlife-planner-is-now/
Audrey Ann Hughey’s 2019 Author’s Journal: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1790831105/

Marie Force’s blog: https://blog.marieforce.com/for-writers-how-i-doubled-my-productivity-this-summer/

Trello: www.trello.com
Pomodoro Technique: https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique

Online Time Trackers we’ve tried (free plans):
Hours Stack: https://hourstack.io/
Harvest: https://www.getharvest.com/
Toggl: https://toggl.com/
Officetime (paid phone app) : http://www.officetime.net/

Complete Guide to Bullet Journalling for Writers: https://writersedit.com/fiction-writing/complete-guide-bullet-journaling-writers/

SPA Girls Guide to: Kick Overwhelm To The Curb
http://www.selfpublishingauthorspodcast.com/authoroverwhelm/

https://www.getapp.com/p/sem/scheduling-software

Dec 25 2018

52mins

Play

Rank #14: SPA Girls Podcast – EP149 – Killer Interview with Damon Suede and Geoff Symon

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This week Wendy and Cher sit down in a fairly noisy cafe with Indie author Damon Suede and his partner, Geoff Symon. The f-bomb went off fairly early in the piece, so if you’re offended by swear words… you should still listen because all the rest of the words out of their mouths were gold… 🙂

Damon published his first novel, Hot Head, in 2011, which has since been named one of ‘Top 100 Romance Novels of All Time’ on Goodreads. He’s currently on the board of directors for Romance Writers of America and is well known for the way he unbundles characters when writing his books.

His partner Geoff Symon is a US Federal agent and has now written three non-fiction books all about how to write forensics for fiction authors. He’s full of fantastic information about crime scenes, and because he’s lived with a writer all these years, he can translate it in a way that makes sense for authors.

Between the two of them, they kept Wendy and Cher on their toes, talking at double speed, and giving off gems of information like they were sand at the beach. From characterization to stepping up in the author community, to the best way to write crime scenes – this interview has it all.

Another must-listen episode from the 2018 RWNZ conference…

Show Links:

Damon’s website: www.DamonSuede.com

Geoff’s website:  www.GeoffSymon.com

Aug 22 2018

43mins

Play

Rank #15: SPA Girls Podcast – EP158 – Some Like It Hot ….Or Not

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This week we put on our flame retardant suits and discuss how to define the heat level of your story – and why it’s important to know.

There is no standard or uniform code to heat levels, so writers and readers can face a few challenges: what one reader may consider “hot,” another might consider “mild” or vice versa. With books there’s no certified ratings system a la the movies.  And to further complicate things, if you’re looking at the hybrid route, publishers and agents also have different ideas about what constitutes a certain level of heat. Terms – especially sweet / clean can be used interchangeably by some folk, so take note of that when discussing cross promotions and newsletter swaps.  We discuss (and agree with) Sylvia Day’s widely referenced article on sexy romance heat levels – see the link below.

Defining your heat level is all about meeting reader expectations and in the podcast we also talk about conveying the heat level by your cover, title, subtitle and blurb.

Important note: Happy Ever After Ending is still a requirement for your standard romance regardless of heat level

Talking of definitions, here’s our SPA Girls Spice Index as we define the different heat levels in romance:

  • Clean = minimal sexual tension, no illicit thoughts, no kissing, no intimate touching, no violence, language, contentious subject material (note, lines between inspirational and clean are blurring
  • Sweet = no sex on page – can be fade to black, sexual tension described and kissing allowed. Can still involve serious topics (eg addiction, abuse etc) as part of the story and focus is on developing the emotional conflicts between the characters.
  • Sexy = romance story about the development of a romantic relationship with more explicit sex on the page. The sex is not an inherent part of the story and could easily be removed or “toned down” without damaging the storyline.
  • Erotic Romance = stories written about the development of a romantic relationship through sexual interaction. The sex is an integral part of the story and relationship development, and couldn’t be removed without damaging the storyline.
  • Erotica = stories written about the sexual journey of the characters and how this impacts them as individuals. Happily Ever Afters aren’t an intrinsic part of erotica, though they can be included. The focus remains on the individual characters’ journeys, not the progression of the romance.

Helpful links:

http://cathymcdavid.com/tell-me-the-difference-between-sweet-and-clean-romances/

https://www.sylviaday.com/extras/erotic-romance/

https://allthekissing.com/2018/05/a-romance-writers-guide-to-heat-levels/

Join the SPA Girls on Facebook and Twitter @spagirlspodcast

Oct 24 2018

45mins

Play

Rank #16: SPA Girls Podcast – EP154 – The Power Of Four

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This week we talk about the power of four, or how working and interacting with other authors can amp up your author career.

Using our experiences in the SPA, we talk about how having other writers to talk to, offer support, give advice and ideas, and walk the same path gives you a huge boost.

We’ve all said that none of us would be as far along in our careers if we didn’t have the other SPA Girls. And we don’t think we’re unique. There are thousands of other groups of writers who are helping and supporting each other.

How can you do this too? Our best advice is to find events and conferences for writers near where you are and meet other authors in person. With this in mind, we also did an impromptu Top Ten Networking Tips for Introverted Writers, with heaps of suggestions for how you can meet and talk to other authors.

1         Go to a conference/ a talk / a meeting.

2          Practice asking interesting questions before you go. Most people love to talk about themselves and if not, ask them about what they’re writing / their processes / what they read.

3          Find your person if you can and be sure to make it an equal partnership.

4          Makes the goals small.  What do you want to achieve in a group? Feedback, friendship/support?

5          Be brave – take the first step to approach a person or a group of people. Someone has to.

6          Remember that everyone around you is probably just as nervous and awkward as you are. Be kind and believe that you’re in the right place.

7          Good things take time, especially friendships. Give people a chance and they’ll return the favor.

8          Be a good community member before you try to sell a book, or ask for favors. Don’t be a ‘that person’ who takes and not gives.

9          Brainstorming with others can help you in so many ways. Be gentle but as honest as you can be. Respect other people’s right to do it ‘wrong’.

10        Think about how you can offer support to others, offer to volunteer at the conference. This will allow you to talk to so many people. Scary, maybe, but a great way to jump in feet first.

All we’re saying is give it a try. We did.

Sep 25 2018

42mins

Play

Rank #17: SPA Girls Podcast – EP213 – Small Changes, Big Results With Bryan Cohen

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This episode we talk with author, podcaster and coach, Bryan Cohen, about making small changes that can add up to big results for authors. 

We talk about why authors often overlook making small changes and how they can be just as important as big ones.

We also discuss some of the most common tweaks that Bryan sees authors making that have made a difference to their success.

About Bryan Cohen: Bryan’s taste for improv comedy at UNC-Chapel Hill brought him to Chicago and provided inspiration for his first book, 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts. He has since published 30+ fiction and non fiction books.

After starting The Sell More Books Show with Jim Kukral, Bryan used his copywriting experience to create Best Page Forward, a book descriptions business. With 250,000+ downloads of his books and 400+ blurbs written, he created Selling for Authors, a step-by-step training program.

In his spare time, Bryan co-hosts a comedy podcast called Something Nice to Say, writes YA fairy tales under the pen name Casey Lane, and captains a soccer team called Zombies FC.

Keen to join the SPA Girls in a live workshop? Join our mailing list here and we’ll let you know the minute we have workshop bookings open.  Info here: https://selfpublishingworkshop.co.nz/index.html

Come say hi on Facebook and Twitter @spagirlspodcast  

Nov 13 2019

53mins

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Rank #18: SPA Girls Podcast – EP217 – All About BookBrush

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Today we interview Kathleen Sweeney, Customer Services Manager and Marketing Lead at BookBrush, an online platform designed to help authors with all their image creation needs.

Kathleen helps us delve into what we as writers can get out of BookBrush, and all the features that we can use to create amazing social media and advertising images. She explains the platform, how it works, what options are available and some of her favourite tips to create the right images for your needs. Kathleen also tells us they’re always evolving and working on new and exciting things to help us create those wonderful graphics.

“As someone who can be at times technologically challenged, I find BookBrush easy to navigate and am always pleasantly surprised at the quality of the graphics I’m able to produce in a short space of time.” – Wendy xx 

BookBrush has kindly offered our SPA Girls followers a 15% Lifetime Discount on the Plus Plan. Just use the coupon code: SPAGIRLS15 when you sign up.

https://bookbrush.com/

Here is the link for the How To Get Started video: https://vimeo.com/331854725
Here is the link for today’s webinar “Hidden Gems, Tips & Tricks to Help You Make the Most of Book Brush”: https://zoom.us/recording/play/TrzDAkw0XYQXf6WMNjZ1-eBFZKla9uZvo9zZTF97WxSE_I03I3gzNbO3gHdwG98s?continueMode=true
Here is a link to our Book Brush blog posts that can help folks learn more about Book Brush: https://bookbrush.com/blog/
Here is the link to the article on Print Codes: https://authors.bookfunnel.com/help/print-codes/

Dec 10 2019

32mins

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Rank #19: SPA Girls Podcast – EP173 – How To Identify Your Writing Weaknesses

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Today’s episode was inspired by a comment on our podcast website www.SpaGirlsPodcast.com by listener Carron, who asked “…when you’re starting out (writing) how do you know what weaknesses to focus on? You don’t know what you don’t know. Love to hear an episode on things to work on, or things you ladies have struggled with and how you’ve gone about correcting them.

Carron makes a really good point and we’re kinda kicking ourselves that we haven’t discussed this before. We’ve all been in “the writing game” for many, many years, and it’s good to be reminded of the questions we had right back at the beginning.

Learning writing craft is something that best comes from practice and lots of reading. Later on, when you’re ready to prepare your manuscript for publication, get some “eyes” on it – whether from a critique group, beta readers, fellow writers, genre-savvy friend – and do a preliminary self-edit. Then save up and get it professionally edited. We cover the various types of editing, but briefly:

* If your “other eyes” don’t understand quite what’s happening in the story or that it has giant plot holes, then look to get a development editor. Someone who looks at the story from the “high level”

* If they don’t understand why characters do the things they do, then go back and re-read your manuscript (after taking a break) and make sure you explain your character’s motivations clearly to the reader. Highly recommend the book Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Shar comments: For me, I was aware of my lack of grammar and punctuation formal knowledge (child of the 70s!) purely from listening to others talk about “participles” and “oxford commas” and realising I had no idea what they were talking about. So I bought myself Strunk & White’s book, signed up for ProWriting Aid and check in to Purdue University’s online writing lab that offers free exercises to help train you. This was super helpful. It’s something I still worry about, but I’m getting there slowly feeling more grammatically confident.

Wendy’s comments: Entering contests gave me validation, as until I had achieved some success here, I didn’t believe my books were either good enough, or ready to be published.

Helpful Links:
https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/grammar/index.html

Wendy’s site with favorite writing resources: https://wendyvella.com/for-writers.html

Book: Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon  https://amzn.to/2Bk1RJG

Feb 06 2019

30mins

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Rank #20: SPA Girls Podcast – EP216 – Sharpen Up Your Author Career

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 It’s that time of year when we start looking back on the year, wondering how it all flew by so fast, and thinking about what we can do for the coming year. 

This week we’re talking about another lesson we learned at the Romance Author Mastermind (RAM) – making sure that you’ve crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s on all the areas in your author career, from your backlist to your website and everywhere in between. It’s about making sure everything is as tight and sharp as you can make it, and it turns out that it’s a vital part of your business. 

If you want to learn how to sharpen up your author career, this is a must listen episode!

Dec 04 2019

33mins

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SPA Girls Podcast – 223 – What’s Your Word?

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We love the idea of visualising a word to describe how you’ll be in 2020.

What difference could a word make?

The answer is, it won’t unless you put it into play every day.

If it’s a word that speaks to you, then make the most of it. Use it. Journal about it. Post it somewhere you can see it. Put it in your phone and calendar.

You can find out our words and what we intend to do with them in this week’s episode of the SPA Girls Podcast.

Helpful resources:

How to Craft an Inspirational Mantra to Use All Year Long from Inc.com : “Rather than focus on new year’s resolutions that don’t stick, I prefer to focus on things that help me reach my goals in a more mindful and holistic way.”

How To Choose Your Word For The Year from Cultivate What Matters blog : “Open a dictionary and thesaurus. Take your brainstorm list and use an old-fashioned dictionary/thesaurus to start researching your words! Look at the definition of each word, it’s origin, and synonyms and antonyms. You may be amazed at what you discover!

“I HAVE MY ONE WORD, NOW WHAT?
USE IT
Make the most of it. Use it. Journal about it. Post it somewhere you can see it. I wrote it on my whiteboard at work so I see it every day. Likewise, I refer back to the page in my bullet journal often.” ~ via Intentional Pieces.com

Jan 21 2020

28mins

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SPA Girls Podcast – EP222 – Write It Down, Make It Happen

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Are you ready to make 2020 YOUR year?! This week we talk about the importance of physically writing down your goals to make them happen.

Wendy is a perfect example of the power of writing them down: In 2006, superstar author Debbie Macomber, attended our Romance Writers of NZ conference where she gave each attendee an index card to write their wildest writing dreams down. Wendy kept her goalcard over the years and as she achieved each goal, she marked it off. Now her entire card has been checked off!

As Debbie says in her blog: “One of the best ways to stick with your goals is to write them down. Over the years I’ve used a simple goals worksheet, and kept it in a place that I would see it regularly.”

The science behind the power of writing goals down is explained in many books and blogs.  Shar’s favorite is Henriette Anne Klauser’s book  Write It Down Make It Happen.

https://www.amazon.com/Write-Down-Make-Happen-Knowing/dp/0684850028  From Amazon: published in 2000, Henriette Anne Klauser, Ph.D. is a leading expert on communications and writing productivity. While she has written several books intended for writers, Write It Down, Make It Happen is an excellent resource for people struggling to achieve their goals, whatever those goals might be.

In Write It Down, Make It Happen, Klauser explains, “The right side of the brain traditionally governs the feeling, non-verbal part of you, while the left hemisphere handles rational thought and logic. When your goal is not working, determine which side you are operating from, and make a conscious shift to the other.” For someone struggling to achieve any goal, understanding the psychology behind how you are experiencing a situation helps you refocus your efforts, rather than becoming mired down in self-pity.”

What if you write it down and it doesn’t happen?

The first thing to stop and consider is, maybe it did happen! Klausner reminds us that maybe it just did not happen the way you intended. Go back and look at the outcome of the outcome, the benefit of the benefit of the benefit. What was it that you wanted out of that goal? You may have gotten what you wanted after all, from a different avenue.

So get writing and let’s check back at the end of the year and see how we Made It Happen!

Make sure you’re signed up to our weekly newsletter full of self-publishing tips and resources.

Come say hi on Facebook and Twitter @spagirlspodcast  

Resources:
Debbie Macomber’s site: 
https://blog.debbiemacomber.com/2020-goals
Her free 2020 goals worksheet: https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/5001323/Goals%20Worksheet.pdf

https://moneyminiblog.com/goal-setting/power-myths-written-goals/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/markmurphy/2018/04/15/neuroscience-explains-why-you-need-to-write-down-your-goals-if-you-actually-want-to-achieve-them/#56c6a94d7905

https://www.amazon.com/Write-Down-Make-Happen-Knowing/dp/0684850028

Jan 14 2020

33mins

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SPA Girls Podcast – EP221 – Reviving Your Backlist With Laurelin Paige

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This episode we are honored to chat with NYT Bestseller, Laurelin Paige, specifically about how we can REVIVE OUR BACKLIST (she defines backlist as a book that’s more than 12 months old).

Top tips she discussed in this podcast CRAMMED with amazing
advice:

1. Keep a calendar for the upcoming year and write in your
new releases, then pad around it with backlist titles for “working”
once a month

2. The easiest thing to recharge a book is designing a new cover – even if the old cover is good, people want to look at something new. Don’t be precious with your covers.

3. Change your mindset from traditional book marketers: lean
into the strengths that indie gives us – and that’s likely changing covers
annually

When considering her backlist, Laurelin first looks at making cover changes (for entire series ideally – if you can’t afford to do them all at once, then save up rather than doing one at a time). She tries to pair a cover change with a bookbub / freebooksy / blog tour etc – treat the book like it’s a new thing

4. Experiment with lowering the price. A sale can attract
new readers (once every six months). Always put your best book as your freebie.

Timeframe – it’s never too early to have a sale. Laurelin likes to wait to get the full price audience to see the book first, then reaches a new audience with a sale. For books in KU, she also prefers using five free days rather than a countdown deal.

5. Free Prequels – experiment with these (cliffhangery endings leading into the first book of the series) Need to be wide (can be just Nook for price matching) if you’re in KU. Can do these before AND after release.  Laurelin plans prequels ahead of time.

6. REPACKAGE – especially if getting rights back from trad pubbed books, re-edit, retitle (with a note for readers), recover, always tell readers where to go to the next book.

7. Front and back matter: Laurelin has her full backlist listed in the front matter with a newsletter signup (free book monthly given away thanks to newsletter swaps with similar authors); backmatter focuses on the next step you want readers to take – ie next book.

8. Work your newsletter – send 2 / 3 times per month. Mention your other books frequently. Don’t release then forget them – people need reminding. In every newsletter feature one of your backlist.

9. Marketing is cumulative. You have to keep pushing your
backlist.

10. Consider moving in and out of KU if you have more than one book. Treat the move as a new release – do a blog tour etc.

11. Connect books in series, even if there’s no connection
for better read through (eg “Summer Reading Series”.

12. Change Titles – is there a catchier way of reaching new readers? Ask what your title tells you about the book.

13. Make your book look new in a different way. Put it in a boxed set? If wide, look at what is ranking well in the Apple charts for your genre and examine cover trends; if KU, look at Amazon. 

14. Bundle with other authors – eg “Hot for the holidays” multi-author bundle

15. Don’t shy away from reworking (editing / rewriting / repackaging) existing backlist if they’re not selling

Don’t take these tips in isolation. It’s important to ask yourself the overarching question “What can I do to make people find this particular book?”

Stop focussing on release week and measuring your success (or failure!) with that. Get out of that mindset!

About Laurelin Paige

With millions of books sold worldwide, Laurelin Paige is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling Author. She is a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Killing Eve, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She’s also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn’t do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio.

https://laurelinpaige.com/

Say Hi to the Spa Girls at:

Facebook and Twitter @spagirlspodcast  

Jan 07 2020

1hr 1min

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SPA Girls Podcast – EP220 – Our Goals for 2020

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Happy New Year! 

This episode is a round-up of the goals and visions that we, the SPA Girls, have for 2020. It’s gonna be a big year! It’s the year of opening ourselves up to all the opportunities out there, being efficient, and focusing on the daily wins. 

We talk about having the right mindset for achieving your goals, how we’re going to make everything happen for us, and how you can make it happen for you too. 

It’s going to be a great year. Bring on 2020! 

Jan 01 2020

34mins

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Spa Girls Podcast – EP218 – Our 2019 Hits & Misses

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This week’s episode is a Spa Girls retrospective of how our 2019 went – what our two big Hits were, and what we found challenging. As usual, we get deep and personal. And cheeky!

We’ve also got a wee teaser about our teaching plans for next year – stay tuned for those!

Thank you to all our listeners who’ve been so amazingly supportive this year. Your downloads, your comments, your social media shares and your reviews are very VERY appreciated!

Dec 18 2019

31mins

Play

SPA Girls Podcast – EP217 – All About BookBrush

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Today we interview Kathleen Sweeney, Customer Services Manager and Marketing Lead at BookBrush, an online platform designed to help authors with all their image creation needs.

Kathleen helps us delve into what we as writers can get out of BookBrush, and all the features that we can use to create amazing social media and advertising images. She explains the platform, how it works, what options are available and some of her favourite tips to create the right images for your needs. Kathleen also tells us they’re always evolving and working on new and exciting things to help us create those wonderful graphics.

“As someone who can be at times technologically challenged, I find BookBrush easy to navigate and am always pleasantly surprised at the quality of the graphics I’m able to produce in a short space of time.” – Wendy xx 

BookBrush has kindly offered our SPA Girls followers a 15% Lifetime Discount on the Plus Plan. Just use the coupon code: SPAGIRLS15 when you sign up.

https://bookbrush.com/

Here is the link for the How To Get Started video: https://vimeo.com/331854725
Here is the link for today’s webinar “Hidden Gems, Tips & Tricks to Help You Make the Most of Book Brush”: https://zoom.us/recording/play/TrzDAkw0XYQXf6WMNjZ1-eBFZKla9uZvo9zZTF97WxSE_I03I3gzNbO3gHdwG98s?continueMode=true
Here is a link to our Book Brush blog posts that can help folks learn more about Book Brush: https://bookbrush.com/blog/
Here is the link to the article on Print Codes: https://authors.bookfunnel.com/help/print-codes/

Dec 10 2019

32mins

Play

SPA Girls Podcast – EP216 – Sharpen Up Your Author Career

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 It’s that time of year when we start looking back on the year, wondering how it all flew by so fast, and thinking about what we can do for the coming year. 

This week we’re talking about another lesson we learned at the Romance Author Mastermind (RAM) – making sure that you’ve crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s on all the areas in your author career, from your backlist to your website and everywhere in between. It’s about making sure everything is as tight and sharp as you can make it, and it turns out that it’s a vital part of your business. 

If you want to learn how to sharpen up your author career, this is a must listen episode!

Dec 04 2019

33mins

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SPA Girls Podcast – EP215 – Taking Risks and Being Brave

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If you’re anything like the rest of us in the SPA, you’re quite happy in your writing cave. You don’t really want to leave the comfort of your keyboard. 

But this episode is all about why you really should take risks, be brave, and learn how to say yes to some of the really scary things in the self publishing industry. 

We’re just recently back from the wonderful Romance Author Mastermind conference put on by Skye Warren, so we use examples from information we learned at this amazing event to help us illustrate our points for this podcast. Another episode full of tips and tidbits that will help your self publishing career!

Nov 26 2019

29mins

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SPA Girls Podcast – EP214 – Interview with Lindsay Buroker

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I (Trudi Jaye) was VERY EXCITED to get to interview super-successful fantasy author and fellow podcaster Lindsay Buroker at 20BooksVegas, and (OMG!!) she didn’t disappoint.

Lindsay’s doing really well in the genres of Fantasy, Sci-Fi Romance, Fantasy Romance, and is about to publish a new Urban Fantasy series next year – so she talks about how she makes writing in multiple genres work so well for her career, how and why she switches between fantasy to sci-fi and, of course, how she’s so productive. 

Even if you’re not like me and a total fangirl, this is a must-listen episode from a super-smart self-publishing author.

Check out Lindsay here: www.lindsayburoker.com

Nov 20 2019

55mins

Play

SPA Girls Podcast – EP213 – Small Changes, Big Results With Bryan Cohen

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This episode we talk with author, podcaster and coach, Bryan Cohen, about making small changes that can add up to big results for authors. 

We talk about why authors often overlook making small changes and how they can be just as important as big ones.

We also discuss some of the most common tweaks that Bryan sees authors making that have made a difference to their success.

About Bryan Cohen: Bryan’s taste for improv comedy at UNC-Chapel Hill brought him to Chicago and provided inspiration for his first book, 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts. He has since published 30+ fiction and non fiction books.

After starting The Sell More Books Show with Jim Kukral, Bryan used his copywriting experience to create Best Page Forward, a book descriptions business. With 250,000+ downloads of his books and 400+ blurbs written, he created Selling for Authors, a step-by-step training program.

In his spare time, Bryan co-hosts a comedy podcast called Something Nice to Say, writes YA fairy tales under the pen name Casey Lane, and captains a soccer team called Zombies FC.

Keen to join the SPA Girls in a live workshop? Join our mailing list here and we’ll let you know the minute we have workshop bookings open.  Info here: https://selfpublishingworkshop.co.nz/index.html

Come say hi on Facebook and Twitter @spagirlspodcast  

Nov 13 2019

53mins

Play

SPA Girls Podcast – EP212 – Writing Great Characters

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We all love it when we’re reading and we fall in love with a character.

Not just in the book boyfriend way – although that’s cool too – but in a isn’t-she-so-great-I-wish-I-could-be-just-like-her-or-maybe-just-her-best-friend way. 

As an author, how do you make that happen for your readers? 

That’s what we’re talking about this week in the SPA. What makes a great character? How do we make them so memorable that our readers keep coming back for more? What do you need to know about them before you start? And how do you bring them to life on the page?  

Join us as we dissect everything you might ever need to know about writing great characters! 

SHOW NOTES:

Wendy –
I sometimes do a character interview when I get stuck. Who are your family? What’s your backstory etc.
– It’s important to like your characters. If they’re mean, then show what made them that way, and also show a lighter side. (Do they like bunnies or something like that)
– Give them redeeming qualities.
– Your characters have to grow during the book. It’s an emotional journey and you need to share that with the reader.
– Often opposites attract when writing a hero and heroine.
– They can appear perfect, but can’t really be that way or they’d have no room for change.

Trudi –
Consider using personality types like Myers Briggs to give you a basis from which to work out your character and their motivations.

Use Goal, Motivation, Conflict structure: What is their goal, why do they want it, and what is standing in their way?

Examples of possible character motivations:
Survival, fear, peer pressure, curiosity, guilt, desire, instability, love, loyalty, honor, obedience, vengeance, inequality, hatred, dishonor, pride, greed, revenge, lust, jealousy, death, humiliation, pain, rejection, loss, regret, shame.

Michael Hauge talks about Identity and Essence, and I find this helpful to think about. What is the identity the character is hiding in, and what is the essence that is what they truly want to be (or just could be if they tried or believed differently).

Or just general questions:
What is your character’s goal – what do they want?
What is the one thing that is standing in their way? (Or one person standing in their way.)
What is their biggest flaw? (They should get over it, or work on it by the end of the book)
What is the one thing they would most hate to have happen to them? (Probably relating to their flaw. You need to make this happen to them.)

Answer questions like:
Physical appearance – height, weight, eyes etc, also clothes, and hair. Age.
What is their body language like?
What is their education? Do they have any strong beliefs?
How do they get around?
Where do they work?
What are their mannerisms? Do they have tics? Do they bite their nails, do they talk too much when they’re nervous?
What are their quirks? (Things that the other characters can notice about them, and maybe hate at first but miss later on… like the guy who hates how much this woman talks, and then misses her voice later on when she’s mad at him)

But also questions like:
Who has influenced them as they’ve grown up?
What would they do in certain situations? Are they shy, or bold? Confident or meek?
What makes them laugh?
How do they act when they’re angry?
What’s the best way to cheer them up?
Greatest strength, greatest weakness, greatest fear?
What are their important relationships?
What do they carry around in their pockets or handbag that they can’t do without?
What secrets do they keep from everyone around them?
What’s their strongest memory from their childhood? (probably relating to their flaw)
What traits do they have that can sometimes lead them into trouble? (Being overprotective, or not being able to keep quiet when you see injustice being done…)
Who or what do they love the most? What do they have to lose?
What do they think they want? (could be different to what they need)
What are they most afraid of?

Consider how you introduce your characters. Setting can play a huge part in the introduction. Remember to show not tell if you possibly can.

Cheryl –
More Questions:
Name:
Age:
Appearance:
Connection to MC or storyline:
Motivation:
Personality:
What’s your biggest goal in life?
What are you most scared of?
Okay, so that’s what you tell people. What are you really really afraid of?
What is your greatest regret?
What do you hate most about yourself?
What do you love about yourself?
Who do you hate most? Or What kind of person do you hate most? Why?
Where did you grow up?
What was your homelike life as a child?
What’s your life look like now?

Nov 05 2019

28mins

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SPA Girls Podcast – EP211 – Self Care Isn’t Selfish

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If you don’t take care of yourself, odds are no one else will. So what does it take to make sure you’re firing on all cylinders?

We’ve all got our own take on self-care and yet there are plenty of similarities.

Wendy
-Remember you are a work in progress, allow room to grow. (no one is perfect)
-Call yourself a writer
-Stop worrying about what everyone else is thinking.
-Limit social media
-Make goals achievable
-Find your tribe
-Take breaks.
-Exercise and stretch. Find a stretching routine.

Trudi 
– Writing/working yourself to the bone makes you less productive, not more.
– Take breaks to refresh your mind. You will come back thinking clearer and able to do things better.
– Look at your negative self talk. What are you saying to yourself? This can be totally sub conscious, and really damaging.
– Look after your health, both mental and physical – exercise, eat well, try not to give in to compulsive behaviours.
– Schedule and plan, then stick to it. Give yourself breaks in the schedule and stick to them.
– Rest is just as important to creative process as working hard. Down time is vital.

Shar
There’s a very fine line between creativity and mental health and a lot of us at times struggle with depression and anxiety (and a host of other fun things). The reality is, that’s super common in this community and while we all want to lift each other up and be supportive, it also isn’t an excuse for shitty behaviour or letting other people down like service providers, fellow authors and readers. So own it, get help, but don’t use it as a “get out of jail free card” cos tbh, that just makes it harder for everyone else to be understood.

I’m crap at self-care personally, but that’s on me and it’s no-one else’s fault – or responsibility – than mine. So I’m trying to walk the talk and walk regularly, get better sleep and practice mindfulness.

Cheryl
– Be a good community member. Contribute to discussions and you’ll have that reciprocated when you need it.
– Get out of the space you’re in and go somewhere else to write or simply recharge. You have the ability and power to work anywhere!
– Listen to most things and only hold onto the things that matter to you or can make a difference.
– Stretch yourself but not to the point of snapping.
– Celebrate your successes and don’t blame your failures on others.
– Every mistake is an opportunity to learn so don’t dwell on them.
– Think positively. You finished a chapter/wrote a book/published a book. That’s pretty darn clever in anyone’s book!

It’s not an easy career, but you certainly don’t need to make it harder for yourself.

Oct 31 2019

39mins

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SPA Girls Podcast – EP210 – Slow & Steady to Six Figures with Serenity Woods

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Serenity Woods is a New Zealand self-publishing superstar with more than 70 books published (both traditionally and indie). She’s a USA Today bestselling author of sexy contemporary romances, most of which are set in the sub-tropical Northland of New Zealand, where she lives.

Serenity joins the SPA Girls again this week to discuss her publishing strategy and the road to six figures – hint, it’s a marathon, not a sprint!
Her SPA Girls Podcast episode from when she last appeared with us at the beginning of 2019 is one of our most downloaded episodes ever. This latest one is sure to be just as popular, with Serenity’s frank honesty, encouragement and keen insight into how you too can be a six-figure author.

Find Serenity at: https://www.serenitywoodsromance.com/

Oct 23 2019

42mins

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SPA Girls Podcast – EP209 – Editing with Anne Victory

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Confused about the editing process? Today we talk with talented editor Anne Victory, founder of Victory Editing.

Anne has always been a stickler for grammar, and at every job she was “volunteered” (or volun-told) to either write or proofread everything from menus to game manuals to advertising copy. That business writing and editing experience came in handy when she started to work in fiction.

She enjoys reading, and polishing the written word. Common wisdom says do what you love and you’ll live a long and happy life. With her background in English literature, grammar, and library science, it was a fairly easy decision to work with authors.

We discuss what it takes to work with an editor. What you need to think about when you are editing your manuscript and much more.

Anne has written a wonderfully informative book that is a must-read!
How to Polish your manuscript in 10 days: https://www.amazon.com/How-Polish-Your-Manuscript-Days/dp/1793364052

Check out Anne at her website: http://victoryediting.com/

Oct 15 2019

1hr 3mins

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SPA Girls Podcast – EP208 – Writing to Market Versus Writing To Trend

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What does ‘writing to trend’ mean?

Isn’t it just the same as ‘writing to market’? 

In the SPA, we say NO, they’re not the same…and here’s why: basically, Shar told us so.  🙂 

In this episode we explore the two terms, look at the differences between them, what they both mean for you as an author, and how you can use writing to market and writing to trend to help your writing career. 

If you’ve ever wondered if writing to market was for you, or thought you’d spotted a trend early, this is the episode for you! 

Oct 08 2019

31mins

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SPA Girls Podcast – EP207 – Meeting Reader Expectations

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Ah, readers…

They’re elusive. Magical. Confusing. 

But we all want them. 

This episode, we break down the topic of reader expectations, discussing what they are, what it means for you the author, and how to make sure you are fulfilling your readers’ expectations.  

Why do readers love certain books? What makes them pick one book over another? And more importantly, how do you make sure your book is the one that readers gravitate towards…? 

It’s all covered in this week’s episode of the SPA Girls Podcast! 

SHOW NOTES:

Understanding reader expectations

As readers, we all expect something when we open a book by our favourite author. And when we don’t get it, we don’t necessarily understand why, but we don’t enjoy that book.

Reader expectations is the difference between a book that is dog eared and well-loved, read again and again, passed on to friends and family, kept in pride of place on the bookshelf…and a book that’s thrown away before it’s even finished.

It’s important to know and understand the reader expectations in your genre. It’s different for every genre, including ones like literary fiction and women’s fiction.

But’s it’s a formula – don’t get it confused with following a formula. People sometimes bristle at the word formula, and don’t want to write something to a preordained script. Writing to appease reader expectations isn’t a formula.

It’s making sure your historical romance is set in a historical time, and has a happily ever after attached.

It’s making sure your mystery novel has a mystery, usually involving a murder.

It’s making sure your epic fantasy is set in a strange realm with magic.

It’s making sure your urban fantasy has a kick butt hero or heroine who is surrounded by magic but in the present day.

Some examples of reader expectations:
The POV in UF is usually first person. The main character is the same from book to book in a series. Same for Mystery novels.

The biggest and easiest way to think about this is a romance that doesn’t have a happily ever after (or at least a happily for now).

But in romance, you also have to change up the protagonists each time. So any books that are primarily about the romance, like Paranormal Romance, or Historical Romance, or Contemporary Romance will generally change protagonists each time.

Imagine an action adventure book with a hero who couldn’t get himself out of a series of crazy adventures.

Imagine a mystery with no body.

There are other expectations too.

Genre helps to define the character arc, and thereby the story that your protagonists will take.

Westerns usually include a loner who comes in to help a community, but the loner generally takes off again on his own at the end of the book.

In Romance, the characters will have a conflict, internal and external reasons why they can’t be together, that will have to blow up in their faces, and then be resolved by the end of the book.

Starts with your cover and blurb.

Could also include your writing style and the plot and characters in your book.

It could be the tone of the book – a rom-com will be light and zany, whereas some really emotional romance books are serious and angst-ridden.

Trying to break reader expectations/conventions of genre – If you as an author feel like you’re going to bring something interesting or avante guard to the romance genre, by introducing the millions of romance readers to the joy of an unhappy ending – the tears, the sadness, the upset…

You’ll be in for a shock.

If you do get any romance readers buying your book, they’ll hate it. Leave bad reviews. Complain loud and long to their friends.

Because the reason people read romance is for the happy ending. The safety of knowing that despite whatever trials and tribulations they may have during the story, the couple will always end up together in the end (or the group, if you read reverse harem…!)

If you don’t have a happy ending in your book, it’s not romance. Full stop. The end.

Doesn’t mean to say that there’s not an audience for books with unhappy endings. Look to women’s fiction or literary fiction, if that’s the way your mind works.

Just don’t try to shoe horn it into a genre that it doesn’t fit in.

Some people look at the numbers for romance books, and see dollar signs. We were at a presentation on the weekend, and they basically said that romance outsells all the other most popular genres joined together.

But don’t just try to make your book fit when it doesn’t. It won’t work. Readers aren’t stupid. As a new author, as soon as you give them something they don’t like, you’ve lost your opportunity to win them over.

What happens when you don’t understand reader expectations?
You get the wrong people reading your book, you get bad reviews, and a book that doesn’t sell. It doesn’t matter if it’s the best book in the world, with the most amazing premise. If you don’t know and understand the genre you’re in, and you don’t meet the expectations of the readers in that genre, you won’t be successful.

Often this is all subconscious. If you ask a reader, they might say, oh no, I read everything. I don’t have any preconcieved ideas about what should be in a story.

They just don’t understand their reading habits.

What can you do to change it up?
You can use reader expectations and tropes to your advantage, in that you can turn them around a little.

You can use readers expectations in a mystery novel to set someone up as the killer… and then have it be someone else. (which is actually probably expected by the readers at this point anyway)

You can use a popular trope and turn it on its head, so instead of the kick butt heroine in UF, you could have a lazy, smart-ass one instead, as in the Slouch Witch, by Helen Harper – one of my favourite books of all time, by the way.

Be aware, not bound. Understand, and bend the conventions, don’t be unaware.

https://www.mindyklasky.com/index.php/for-writers/romance-tropes/?fbclid=IwAR1ZYtHHybM036CYr_sWbxQ69gDHAyrpMDg9IwxAjhtHaVYDViUBVLAk-Nk

Yes, be aware of the tropes BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY understand the underlying themes that make them popular and the emotions readers are getting from them. Just throwing in a “friends to lovers” theme ain’t gonna cut it – really dig into what resonates for the reader through reading that trope?

Oct 02 2019

30mins

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SPA Girls Podcast – EP206 – Interview with Chris Fox: Ads For Authors Who Hate Maths

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This week we have the pleasure of talking with Chris Fox, author of 20+ SFF novels and very popular non-fiction books for writers including his latest, Ads For Authors Who Hate Math.

Chris once worked in Silicon Valley developing iPhone apps but he’s now come over to the dark side and very successfully writes books about dragons tearing apart starships, and gods blowing up planets. He published his first book in October 2014, and, in his own words, has sold a shit-ton of books. 
In this episode we talk about how to run your ads in 30 minutes a day; how to run profitable advertising campaigns using a simple aggregate sales model; and how not to stress out over figuring out your read-through and cost per click numbers.
Chris also discusses how to create an audience for your ads, images, symbolic recognition and his key tips for ad copy and pruning ads. 
If you’re intimidated by advertising (and spreadsheets!) this episode will make you feel a WHOLE LOT better! 

Resource links:
Find Chris at: www.chrisfoxwrites.com
Everyone Starts At Zero: https://www.chrisfoxwrites.com/2016/04/13/motivation-everybody-starts-at-zero/

Sep 25 2019

55mins

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SPA Girls Podcast – EP205 – Why Is My Series Not Selling?

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Are your sales getting you down? 

Do you wish your series was selling better? 

Can you resuscitate it or is it DOA?

This episode we talk through some of the possible reasons that your book or series might not be selling. 

From cover, editing and blurb writing, to content, tropes, meeting reader expectations, and much, much more. 

We attempt to help you troubleshoot what might be wrong, and what you can do to amp it up, make it work, and sell more books! 

Questions to ask yourself:

Firstly look at editing, cover, blurb – are they top notch?
Then content – is it hitting tropes?
Is it straddling genres?
Is it giving readers the emotional ride they’re expecting?
What’s the word length? Is it usual for that genre?
Are you giving readers a natural place to stop? Dont!
How frequently are you publishing?
How many in the series?
Are they original stories or previously published?
What does the look inside read like?
What’s your author bio saying about the stories you can deliver to your readers?
What’s your read through rate? Calculate it
What other books are on your digital shelves?
What reputation does your penname have? (Previous history)
Have you considered republishing under new pename?
Where are you selling? wide vs exclusive?
How’s your newsletter game?
How are you promoting?
What advertising are you doing?

Be open to pivoting
Play the long game and don’t get discouraged – every book you’ve written to date, regardless of sales, is just one more step up the ladder.
Write what sells – you find this out by looking at the stores!

Sep 18 2019

34mins

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SPA Girls Podcast – EP204 – Snappy Beginnings With Amy Andrews

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Ever been in a bookstore and opened a book to read the first couple of pages? (Or clicked the look inside on Amazon?)

Ever put the book back, deciding it wasn’t that interesting? 

Yep, we have too. 

And that’s exactly what we talk to Australian romantic comedy author Amy Andrews about this week. She takes us through the concept of first pages, and how to make sure readers not only pick up your book, but find they can’t put it down again (until they’ve reached the end!). 

Should you start with dialogue? What words should you cull? Exactly what are readers looking for? Find out the answers to these questions and many more in this episode of the SPA Girls Podcast! 

Check out Amy’s website here: http://amyandrews.com.au/about/

Sep 11 2019

43mins

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SPA Girls – EP203 – How to Fail to Succeed

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Do you feel like your writing career is filled with mistakes? Failures? Problems? 

Good!

That means you’re putting yourself out there, trying new things, and moving in a positive direction in your writing career.

If you’re not doing any of the above…start right now! 

Why, you ask, in horror? 

Because having a pile of failures next to your name means you’re getting out there and doing things in your author business.

If you talk to the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, they’ll all tell you stories of the times they failed, the businesses that didn’t quite go as expected, and the problems they had to overcome.

And that’s okay, because learning how to fail is integral to succeeding.

It teaches us resilience, determination, and persistence. It shows us that we’re human, and that it’s okay to make mistakes, as long as we keep going. 

On the flip side, if you aren’t doing anything, you won’t fail.

Guaranteed. 

Which would you prefer? 

SHOW NOTES:

Failure is the chance to learn and grow – it’s not the end, it’s the beginning and an opportunity to evolve and improve your publishing / writing.

Shar’s notes:

Failure helps you conquer Fear Of Future Failure – from Psychology Today article ” Fear of failure is the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reaction to the negative consequences you anticipate for failing to achieve a goal. It is the intense worry, the negative thinking, and the reluctance to take action you experience, when you imagine all the horrible things that could happen if you failed to achieve a goal.”

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/smashing-the-brainblocks/201712/why-fear-failure-can-keep-you-stuck

The Podcast “How To Fail” by Elizabeth Day features interviews with people about their failures and has written a book of the same name. She talks about failure as a key to success. Day’s advice is to remember that we all fail which is obvious and comforting! “We are all going to fail in our life, that’s a fact. You might as well build up emotional resilience and you might as well confront failure so that the next time it happens, because it will happen, you feel better equipped, stronger and you can learn more from it.” ~ https://www.stylist.co.uk/life/tips-on-how-to-cope-with-failure-elizabeth-day-memoir-how-to-fail/259440

It builds emotional resilience – important for writers!

You learn more from what doesn’t work than what does

Trudi’s Section
If you’re not experiencing failure as you go along, then you’re not trying hard enough! You’re not doing enough! Failure is how we all learn and grow.

If you’re doing everything in such a controlled, structured way that you never fail, you’re never going to grow. You’re never going to get better. You’re never going to achieve everything you could be achieving.

If we’re scared of failure, it’s often that we’re worried about what people might think or what they might say about us. Or even what we might say about ourselves. But when it comes down to it, what is failure?

Dictionary.com definition: nonperformance of something due, required, or expected.

So by that definition it’s not doing something that was required. So if we were to fail, it’s that we’re doing things, and we’re trying new things and we’re learning new things.

So which option do you think gives us the most growth, and the most opportunity for success?

Darren Hardy – It’s like building a muscle, right? The key to growth is massive repeated failure.

Like is like a pendulum, on one side is pain, rejection, failure and sadness, and on the other is love, joy, happiness and success. If you stay in the middle, you won’t experience pain, rejection and sadness, but you won’t enjoy love, joy and success either.

Push your pendulum into pain, rejection, failure and sadness and it will rock you back into the other side.

If I go a whole month without failing, I’m mad at myself. Because I’m not pushing myself enough. I want to be more successful, and I need to be putting myself out there more.

The only thing stopping you from reaching your potential is that you haven’t turned fear into fun.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5fYIE4X6pI

Brooke Castillo says similar – if you’re not taking massive action, doing as much as you can to move yourself forward, and this will definitely include failures, then you’re not going to be as successful as you want.

Also, need to change how you think about failure. If you see it as the big bad thing that you have to avoid at all costs, then you’ll do everything to avoid it. But if you see it as a part of what you need to do, and it’s just another step in the ladder, then you will take the negative emotions out of it, and allow yourself to grow and change.

“There’s not a lot of consideration as to why. I have a lot of people say to me, “I have a real fear of failure,” and I’ll say “Well, what does that mean? What are you afraid of? What is failure? Why are you afraid of it?” They’ll think about it and come back and say “You know what? I’ve never really thought about it that way.””

Definition of Failure from Google:
“The omission of expected or required action.” The omission of expected or required action. I love this definition of failure. If failure means we just didn’t do our own expected action or something else didn’t do our expected action, it just seems so benign. It seems so “Okay. Well that’s what happened. There was an omission of action on either my part or your part.” That’s what we’re called failure? Well, that’s not a big deal, right? It’s just something didn’t turn out the way we had expected.”

“If failure is really just not meeting your own expectation or not taking the
required action to meet your own expectation, then really what’s going to
happen when that happens, is you are going to think some thought that’s
going to create some negative emotion.”

So what that means is that failure is in your head. You are the one making yourself feel bad. You are the one making it mean something that you don’t like. So you need to turn it around. Make failure mean something else. Give yourself failure goals. If you don’t fail at least once a week, you’re not doing it right. When you fail, you can be happy about it, because you’ve just met your fail quota!

Brooke on being a perfectionist:
“A lot of people will say to me that they’re perfectionists, and they’ll say that “I just want to do it all right, and I’m not willing to do it if I can’t do it perfectly.” I have this sense that I think perfectionism is for scared people. I think it gives them an excuse to not take the action, to not put themselves out there and to not fail, to not meet their own expectation.
The reason why they don’t want to not meet their own expectation is
because they know that they’re going to beat their own ass when that
happens. They’re going to beat themselves up. If you were to make a deal
with yourself and say “Hey. I’m going to go out there and try and do this.
There’s going to be, for sure, a chance that along the way I’m not going to
meet my expectation. I’m going to fail, and I’m going to fail many, many
times, but here’s there thing. When I fail, I’m going to have my own back.
I’m going to treat myself with respect. I’m going to honour myself. I’m going
to use that as an opportunity to learn and to take care of myself. I’m going
to use it as an opportunity to love myself more instead of loving myself less.
I will refuse when I don’t meet my own expectation, to say mean things to
myself, to beat myself up, or to quit.”

Go out and do something you think might have a chance of failing. If it fails, no big deal. But it might succeed.

We have to learn how to fail, just like little kids learn to walk. And it’s the process of them falling, and then picking themselves up, that makes them strong enough to eventually walk.

If you don’t make failure a bad thing, if you think, I’m going to be okay with myself if I don’t achieve what I’m setting out to achieve, then you’re more likely to start, to try. If you’re worried about how you’re going to feel, then you’re not going to do it.

Practice failure. It should be a skill that you have in your tool box. How to successfully fail, so that you can move on without making it mean something terrible and bad.

Thomas Edison quote: “No. I didn’t fail a thousand times. I learned a thousand things that didn’t work.”

Barbara Corcoran TedX Speech on REthinking Failure – “I have found that failure and innovation are kissing cousins. If you work on one, you automatically get the other.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kU1DI8HsYAg

Sep 04 2019

32mins

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iTunes Ratings

45 Ratings
Average Ratings
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2
1
2

Audio quality makes this unlistenable

By Julea065 - Nov 08 2019
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I really want to like this podcast, but I just can’t stand to listen to it. With so many hosts, someone should take the time to make sure their microphones are at similar levels so the listener isn’t constantly required to adjust the volume of the show.

Great information

By LizzzieLou - Nov 01 2019
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Lots of great info. I do wish that the host with a bird would leave the bird in the other room during recording. I also think they would all benefit from recording in a blanket fort so that the sound quality is better. But it's all worth it to hear the great info!