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Guest post: Four Life-Changing Business Books by Sean Gray

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of influential and instrumental business books, is brought to you by businessman Sean Gray.

Four Life-Changing Business Books You Probably Haven’t Read

Many business leaders like to repeat the somewhat clichéd phrase, “You gotta read to lead.” Many leaders believe this. Those who follow the advice learn that indeed, reading can change the way they lead, the way they market, and the way they communicate. Leaders, and aspiring leaders, who read the right books discover that reading and applying an important and meaningful book can literally change your life.

Here are four of those life-changing books:

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, the foundation for the now-famous Dale Carnegie Training organization, also formed the core of much “common sense” business practice. Carnegie covers the basics of communication, relationship building and creating a circle of influence. Read as a refresher for the things most people already know and do, Carnegie’s book will open the reader’s eyes to possible changes in behavior and attitude, with the power to change the way a leader does business for the better and for the future. This quote in particular is relevant for business leaders today: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

“Never Give In! The Speeches of Winston Churchill” seems, at first glance, an unlikely business book. Churchill, one of the greatest leaders of all time, also possessed an uncanny knack with the English language. “Never Give In!” contains the best of Churchill’s leadership wisdom, such as, “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.”

“The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, another book seemingly unrelated to the hard work of business, serves a specific purpose for business leaders. “The Tipping Point” illustrates why some ideas take off and become movements or trends or popular brands, and why some don’t. Gladwell explains, and provides examples, of his tipping point theory using three rules of the tipping point. These rules can be explained in simple terms as the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor and The Power of Context. Malcom Gladwell describes the tipping point like this: “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”

“Influence” by Robert Cialdini fills out this list of four life-changing and business-changing books. A psychologist, Cialdini explains what causes people to do what they do and how to influence people’s actions. Using examples from psychology experiments to back up his points, Cialdini provides a course in persuasion that should be used ethically and compassionately. One tip Cialdini provides is that “a well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.”

Individually, these four books can provide a business education in four disparate areas. Combined, they become a masters-level course in building relationships, leading a company or a community, understanding what works and what doesn’t and why, and persuading people to buy into ideas or buy products.

Thank you, Sean.

Sean currently runs a successful business of his own, and reading has helped him immensely. Currently he runs a business called CashForTrucks.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with short story author Emma Cooper – the four hundred and sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

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Blog creation service designed for writers

Anyone who has been following this blog knows how much I enjoy it but also how important it is these days for an author to have a web presence… whether traditionally-published, self-published or neither.

So, I have created http://icanbuildyourwritingblog.wordpress.com.

I recommend WordPress and for £50 (US$75 / AS$75) I can create your blog (providing the http://____.wordpress.com name is available) for you to then do with as you wish. Alternatively, for a reasonable fee, I can maintain it with the content of your choosing using your photographs (or photographs you have permission to use) to promote your writing, books and other writing-related products. This is ideal for anyone uncomfortable with technology but most importantly frees up your time to do what you really love… to write.

For the initial £50 / $75 fee your blog can have your starter (front) ‘home’ introduction page with an introduction posting, up to four menus (e.g. home, about the author, books, contact). You can have more but there would be an additional charge.

Contact information on the blog would be yours (i.e. pointing to your email) but if you choose that I maintain the blog, all comments would come to me and I would forward them to you free of charge. Unless you take over the blog once it is live, updates that you wish made to it will be charged at an hourly rate of £10 / $15, agreed in advance and paid once they are implemented. No payments are due until your agreed initial blog design is live and you’re happy with it.

So, what you get for your £50 (US $75 / AS $75) is thus…

  • A dedicated WordPress blog domain (e.g. http://frankjsmith.wordpress.com) provided it is available (you can tell by typing it in your internet browser, as you would any other website address, and seeing what WordPress tells you or I can check this for you).
  • A theme of your choice (examples shown on the Design page).
  • Four pages (e.g. home, author, books, contact) to include your chosen content e.g. text you send me or text used from existing pages that you’ve provided me, for example your Amazon author page etc.
  • Anything or everything you see here on the right-hand side bar.
  • An introduction or summary posting which will appear at the top of your home page and listed in as many categories as you wish (e.g. writing, horror, crime, western, blogging etc) and keywords (e.g. writing, horror, crime, western, blogging, Frank Smith, Frank J Smith etc).
  • Advice of any comments that are left on the blog, simply emailed to you for you to reply directly on to the blog or via email. I do not reply to comments on your blog as it is your site and I’m just a ghost in the background of it. 🙂
  • Twice-daily announcements of your new blog on my Twitter feed (currently 2,450+ followers) for the first week and intermittent promotion thereafter.

My WordPress Writing Blog has been compiled using free options and your blog would be based on this format (though its design will be to your specification), this ensures costs are kept to a minimum. You are therefore only paying for my time. My blog regularly attracts over 200 visitors per day (on a ratio of US2:UK1 plus many other countries worldwide) with 474 visits on the busiest day to-date (24th March 2012). I post 2-3 times per day with a variety of content and many visits are due to keyword searches because of that high level of content, over 50,000 visits since inception on 31st March 2011.

I have been a writer for seven years and like this writing blog, am consumed by creative writing. This blog creation service is therefore aimed at, but not limited, fellow writers so if you, or someone you know, would like a blog setting up for them do let me know.

I also welcome manuscripts for critiquing / editing, and being based in the East Midlands area of the UK, am available as a speaker, workshop organiser etc.

My email is morgen@morgenbailey.com and I look forward to hearing from you about any service I may be able to provide you with and / or I’m happy to talk about anything writing-related.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with Anishinaabe culture and fantasy YA author V R Janis – the three hundred and fifty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum and you can follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2012 in blog, writing

 

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Guest post: ‘Writing as a business’ by Paul Hurst

I’m delighted to bring you this guest blog post, today on the topic of the business side of writing, and welcome back author and musician Paul Hurst.

Writing as a business

So, what is your job? How do you describe your profession?

If you said a writer (or author, or similar) and you expect to earn a reasonable sum for your work, then I would humbly suggest that you reconsider.

The fortunate few may have a large enough income to cover everything else apart from the actual creative bit, but for the rest of us that just ain’t the case. You may be blessed with an active and efficient agent, your publisher may be a shining example of the breed, but you’ll still be expected to get involved with publicity and marketing, sort out your accounts, keep an accurate diary and stay up to date and connected with your readers. If you don’t take on most (if not all) of this on yourself then you must sub it out to others. Either way, whether running about like a blue-arsed fly, or managing staff (and possibly doing both), you are a business person. Your writing is your product, and it has to be targeted, advertised, distributed and supported by after-sales service just as much as any other product or service. And even if you do have your very own devoted and dedicated posse who’ll wait on you catering to your every whim, please remember that delegation is fine, abdication is not. Many a creative has been royally turned over by the ‘suits’ when their back was turned.

Of course, you can decide that the money isn’t important, that the whole point of your creative output is simply to bring pleasure and/or illumination to others. Or just because you enjoy it so much (or enjoy the status). That’s fine, no harm in it at all and you are quite entitled to do that. Just scrub the ‘earn a reasonable sum’ bit from the job description because you are now indulging in a hobby. However, by accepting that this is the case, by embracing the realities of market needs, competition and everyday logistics you can now gain a huge advantage over rivals who fail to do this.

Back in the late 90’s I decided to turn a paying hobby into a business. Problem was, you were not expected to be able to make a profit from folk music. There were many ‘hobby’ bands happy to turn up for little more than fuel and beer costs. I wanted to tempt the really good players by paying a proper fee as well as making a decent income for myself.

As it happened, this all turned out to be rather a good thing. There was no option but to investigate every single possible method that I could use to out-manoeuvre rivals. A lot of reading and experimenting followed. Fortunately that path turned out to be rather a lonely one – none of the others seemed particularly interested in making any kind of an effort. They were musicians and were not going to ‘prostitute their art’ by getting involved in publicity, or by pandering to any weird thing the customer may want. If clients wanted to book them, on their terms, then fair enough. Hoo-bleeding-ray! A very happy period has followed ever since. Here are a few of the ideas that have worked, and which should translate into the field of writing as well.

Theory of mind

Sorry, spot the O.U. psychology student. It’s the old chestnut about ‘walking a mile in some else’s shoes’ so you understand their viewpoint. It also means that you get their shoes as well, and by the time they realise that you are at least a mile away – but that’s by the by.

In other words, understand who your audience are and what they want. You don’t have to sell out and head for the popular genre of the moment, stick with the style for which you have a genuine passion, but look for ways you can target that to keep your readers happy. Do they want illustrations, shorter/longer books, different formats? No experienced market trader will set up their stall without knowing first what is likely to sell that day. With all the social media options, and other joys of the interweb there is no excuse for failing to engage with your readers. Concentrate on customer service – the aim is to convert readers into raving fans by finding out what they want and then delivering it in abundance.

Risk reversal

Someone has to blink first. We’re the ones wanting the hard cash that readers have, so by the normal rules of the game it’s up to us to get things rolling. If selling paperbacks, offer a full and absolute money-back guarantee. If selling ebooks, let them download a fair chunk of the book first, as a taster. Better yet, give away a complete book first – just make sure you have links to your follow up books or services. Don’t get all anal about the DRM (Digital Rights Management) to stop readers passing on copies to friends – you won’t stop anyone who knows what they are doing. You will however wind up genuine customers who want to read ‘their’ book in more than one format. Keep giving, be open and generous and long term the reciprocity effect which is hard wired into almost all of us will kick in. Always consider the potential lifetime value of a fan.

Add-ons

When you are making a sale, that’s the best time to make another. If you sell your own books on line, find out how to use a pop up screen. These can let you offer something extra at a reduced price in a bundled deal – after all, you’ve made your main profit and are now going to send out a package anyway, so why not use the opportunity to increase the margin a bit? It could be a mouse mat, T-shirt, coffee mug or key ring – whatever. It could even be another book, but at a reduced price.

That’s great, thank you Paul!

Paul Hurst has run his own companies since the mid 1980’s. Small, stable ‘niche’ affairs with the absolute minimum of overheads. Two of the companies cover his work as a musician and performer since the late 70’s, and as band leader since the early 80’s. Working through his business The Solutions Agency Ltd, Paul provides book keeping, accountancy, training and consultancy services to a wide range of small companies, drawing on his experience in banking, County Court, retail, management accounting, advertising, building, civil engineering, importing, engineering and now psychology as a student with the Open University.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me at morgen@morgenbailey.com with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

 

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