Thursday, September 29, 2016
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Even before I had kids, that was one of my favorite commercials, and I'm not a big fan of watching ads. And now that I'm a dad, I understand it on another level. It truly feels as though things are falling back into place, the tumblers are landing in the correct slots to unlock the door.
That's how things have felt for me lately. We have just launched Billy Bobble the Witch Hunt, and I'm working on the next novel, Don M. Vail's Lost Wings. Busy, busy, busy!
But in the busy-ness, I have the exciting fretfulness of a student starting a new school year. I worry about the reviews for R.S. Mellette's wonderful book -- will readers think it's as engaging and provocative as I do? Am I doing enough to get the word out about it? (Probably not. None of us, not even Stephen King, ever do. Don't believe me? Without googling it, what were the names of his last two books?)
So I've been boning up again on online tutorials, re-reading articles about marketing and promotion, and trying to put lessons learned into practice. I wish I had one that I could share that has been hands-down better than everything else, but to me they all seem to be about building audience incrementally, reader by reader. Slow going, to say the least. But valuable, nonetheless
What has worked for you? Have you found anything that worked really well for your book? I'd love to conduct an interview with someone who has a great author-promotional effort to share. We can even do some shared marketing, where we'll give away some books -- yours and ours!
Who's game? After all, It's the most wonderful time of the year.
Wednesday, September 07, 2016
So I'm thinking... Yeah, some of you who've read my blog over the years have probably seen me talk about doing more, but -- as usual -- my wife makes an important point. I may even talk about myself a bit, though I fear I'm way too boring to attract readers with information about me.
What else would you like to hear about on this blog? Or do you wish I'd simply go away? That's a valid viewpoint, too.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Friday, March 18, 2016
In the meantime, how is your writing going? We're almost a quarter of the way through 2016. What have you created so far? Care to share?
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
In Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works, business strategist Roger L. Martin and Sally R. Osberg, president and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, provide an overview of the burgeoning field of social entrepreneurship and share the stories of several social entrepreneurs who have changed — and are changing — the world for the better. And, like the entrepreneurs they highlight — nearly all of whom have been recognized by the Skoll Foundation for their efforts — Martin and Osberg mostly succeed in their objectives, providing a definitional framework for the field, explaining the joys and challenges of the work, and finding compelling examples of people who have overcome those challenges.
Through their work at the Skoll Foundation and the Skoll World Forum, Osberg and Martin have observed that transformative change involves four key stages: first, the social entrepreneur must understand the system she is trying to change; then, she must envision a future in which that system has been changed, build a model for achieving the change, and, finally, scale a solution.
It is not enough, for example, to be repulsed by a tradition such as foot binding or female genital cutting that has been standard practice in certain societies for centuries. Rather, the social entrepreneur "sets out to make sense of the problematic equilibrium itself: how did it come to be and why does it persist?" To do that, Martin and Osberg write, the social entrepreneur must "navigate three powerful tensions" with respect to the world they wish to change: abhorrence and appreciation; expertise and apprenticeship; and experimentation and commitment.
Take the case of Molly Melching, the much-honored founder and executive director of Tostan, a nongovernmental organization headquartered in Dakar, Senegal. Melching, who arrived in Senegal in 1974 as a young academic and, after her program was canceled, found work as a translator for various development agencies, soon fell in love with the country and its people and almost immediately "began heading out from the urban familiarity of Dakar, with its French enclaves of cafes and bookstores, into rural villages." There, she saw signs of failed development and ineffective educational initiatives almost everywhere. "There was little appreciation [within the development community] of the reasons indigenous communities operated as they did," write Martin and Osberg, "[or] why the unhappy equilibriums that prevailed in Africa persevered even in the face of new incentives." After a few years, Melching "came to believe that a different approach was necessary if change was to happen sustainably in Senegal." Continuing her travels, she "sought to engage ever more deeply with communities…learn[ing] from and build[ing] relationships with village elders and young people, to explore community networks, and to shape her knowledge of how the society was structured." In the process, she became intimately familiar with the established equilibrium that prevailed in rural communities — and eventually realized she could do something to change it. After learning and helping teach rural children in their native Wolof language, Melching founded Tostan as a vehicle to scale a community empowerment program and start a conversation about human rights and women's health issues.
It was the latter, for example, that enabled Bart Weetjens, founder of APOPO (Anti-Personnel Landmines Detection Product Development), a registered Belgian nongovernmental organization, to reduce the costs of detecting and disabling land mines. For much of the second half of the twentieth century, dogs had been used to sniff out mines in post-conflict countries, at a cost of $300 to $1,000 per mine. Meanwhile, training a single mine-sniffing dog can cost upward of $40,000. Weetjens, who kept small rodents like rats and hamsters as pets when he was young, recognized that the animals might be both intelligent enough and small enough to do the job for a fraction of the cost. The result of his epiphany? APOPO's army of rats has cleared nearly seventy thousand mines and more than twenty-five million square meters of land since 2004, and along the way Weetjens learned that they could also be trained to sniff out tuberculosis in human tissue samples.
If the book has a shortcoming, it can be blamed on the relative immaturity of the social entrepreneurship field and the lack of a research base detailing the impact of such endeavors. By the authors' own admission, the book is a step, but only a step, down the long road to a cleaner, safer, more sustainable world. It also raises, for this reader at least, as many questions as it answers. For example, as the first generation of social entrepreneurs passes from the scene, who and what will keep their organizations, many of them founder-led, from fading away? And what of the millennial generation, which seems long on good intentions but lacking in resources and, at times, resolve? Perhaps Martin and Osberg will answer those and other questions in their next book. In the meantime, Getting Beyond Better is both a good read and an excellent illustration of the real potential of social entrepreneurship to change the world. That's something we should all embrace in these uncertain times.
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
While I don't generally drop anything into the lottery pool, even I have gotten a ticket (actually, several through an office pool -- more on that in a moment) and spent some idle moments fantasizing about what I'd do if I received some multi-million-dollar cut of the big prize. Who wouldn't?
But such dreams come with downsides. For one thing, I would expect that any large prize would cause problems within the little pool of colleagues -- I think it's about two or three dozen co-workers -- if for no other reason than the fact that many of us live in different states. As a New Jersey resident, do I have a responsibility to pay taxes to New York, where the winning ticket would have been purchased? I'm pretty sure I do, though I don't have any clue what that amount would be. And what would happen to the organization where I work if dozens of people decided they didn't need to work there any longer? Yes, I worry too much.
Needless to say, I haven't ditched my day job and don't expect to anytime soon, but if I were to get a piece of the office pool largess, I know what I wouldn't do: I wouldn't stop writing. If anything, I'd probably write more and might even be asked to write more. It would certainly help my publishing company, though I'd have a lot more expensive bills for folks like lawyers and accountants and probably financial planners.
As writers, we have the potential to win big with every book we complete. Your lottery win might be gaining a top agent or getting a publishing deal. It might be sales numbers that you couldn't imagine a few months ago or newly found celebrity. Personally, I'd be happy with financial security for my family. Again, who wouldn't?
So while I'll be happy if any of my writing and reading friends (or myself) are among the big winners of the billion-dollar lottery, I'm staying focused on creating my own lottery tickets with the books, stories, and articles I write. Good luck, winners!
Wednesday, January 06, 2016
We had our first staff meeting of the year, and I actually came out of it feeling excited and eager to tackle some tasks. I don't remember the last time a staff meeting had me feeling that way. To make it more surprising, in part I'm eager to dive into creating an editorial calendar. Not only that, I'm thinking of how I can do the same type of thing on this blog.
I've already committed in my mind to blogging more often and more consistently. But I've been wrestling with the type of thing I suspect most of you struggle with too: what can I say that'll make a difference for other writers?
The truth is, if we writers don't have something to say, then we're probably in the wrong game in the first place. There's lots of things I want to say and do, but whether they'll have an audience is a different -- and at least as important -- thing altogether.
My ideas include conducting and sharing more interviews with authors, maybe editors, maybe agents. They don't have to be people I've published or will publish through Elephant's Bookshelf Press, though this blog is an extension of my company even if the blog came first (and inspired the name of the company.)
But I'd love to hear what you'd like to see here. I know there are at least a couple readers who come here often. Feel free to either share in the comments or send me an email at email@example.com (or if you have one of my many other email addresses, feel free: communication is what matters) and let me know what else you'd like to see here. I'm aiming to blog at least once every week for the next month or two before making that even more often. But to that end, I'd also like to develop some consistent features, such as interviews or book reviews or posts on what I'm seeing in the publishing world.
So let me know. I'd love to hear from you.