All posts in Publishing

Why I Changed My Name

Why did I change the name of my blog?  Not to mention I’ve changed my Twitter name from @LawyerMommy to @SusanDiMickele.  Is Lawyer Mommy dead?  Done?  Looking for a new identity?

It’s a good question.  And some of you have asked.

As you may know, I’m pretty new in this writing business.  I’m a first-time author, and I’ve been blogging for less than two years.  So I try to pay attention to the experts in the business, like my agent Rachelle Gardner and social media guru Kristen Lamb, who advise us authors to use our published NAME when we write.  (For example, check out Kristen’s post this week on Jane Friedman’s blog.)

But just because I’m told to do something doesn’t mean I’m going to do it.  So I’ve thought about this “branding issue” for myself and I’ve concluded that it makes sense to use my full name as a writer for two main reasons:  1)  My name isn’t going to change; and 2) My name is who I am.

Continue reading →

Are You Ready For A One-Star Review?

It’s no fun getting a one-star review on Amazon.  What’s worse?  Having your 10-year-old son read it in front of you.
When Nick looked up, he was fighting the tears.  Trying to stay strong.  Trying to act like it didn’t matter.
Then he gave his own critique.
“You know, Mom, some of this is probably true.  But, you know what really upsets me?  She didn’t criticize your book.  She criticized you.  And she doesn’t even know you.”
[To continue reading, join me here at the Wordserve Water Cooler.]

Marketing 101: Know Yourself. Be Yourself. Stop Whining.

How do you best market yourself as a writer (and a person)?

In one short post, I’m going to share my playbook.  I’m linking up with Rachelle Gardner and my fellow colleagues at WordServe Literary to give away some unsolicited marketing secrets.

Don’t read this post if you are looking for a shortcut to building a platform.  I don’t have one.  And please don’t read this if you’re looking for time-saving secrets on social media, online communities, or networking with other bloggers.  Sorry.  I don’t have easy answers.  While I engage in all of these strategies, I’d like to share a different perspective.

Know yourself.  Be yourself.  Stop whining.

1)  Know Yourself.

You want practical advice, not a soap box.  Right?  I get it.  So here’s how “knowing myself” has worked so far.

First, I know my limitations.  I have no time to waste.  I’m a too-busy lawyer with three small kids and a husband who already thinks I’m stretched 100 ways too many.  Does this stop me?  Of course not.  I just have to make choices. 

  • I shoot for quality, not quantity.  I choose to connect with other writers and readers that are like-minded – people who inspire and sharpen me, regardless of what they can “do” for me.  And while I’m not making the biggest splash around, it’s been incredibility meaningful.  Meaning motivates me.
  • I hang out on Twitter because it’s fun and efficient.  Of all the social media vehicles, I like Twitter the best.  It’s fast, fun, and incredibly efficient.  I’ve been on Twitter for less than a year, and it’s hands down driven more traffic to my blog than any other source. 
  • I’ve joined one online community, and I’m committed.  About a year ago, I joined The High Calling as a contributing editor.  I guess you could say it’s part of my marketing plan, but that’s not why I do it.  I feel at home there.  It’s a place I’d hang out even if I bagged the whole writing scene.  
  • I’m in it for the long haul.  There’s no quick fix.  I know that my personal platform is going to happen brick by brick.  I’m not looking for quick results, just measurable progress over time. 

2)  Be Yourself. 

Now, you may wonder what this has to do with marketing.  Stick with me, it’s a fair question.

When I was a young trial lawyer, an old pro pulled me aside (come to think of it, I think he smacked me over the head) and gave me some key advice.

“Always be yourself in front of the jury.  If you act fake, they can see right through it.”

Pretty good, huh?

I happen to think readers are a lot like jurors.  So in this world of marketing madness on steroids, I’ve decided to just be me.  I just can’t fake the whole networking thing.  If I went around leaving random comments on blogs that said, “Please follow me and I’ll follow you back” I think I would shoot myself.  (I don’t do auto messages either.)

The good news?  If I’m networking with you, it means I actually like you.  I’m not faking it.

Besides, being myself is the one thing I can do better than anybody else.  (You probably have that same gift.)

3)  Quit Whining.

Writers love to whine (present company especially included).  We have it so hard, don’t we?

Lisa doesn’t work outside her home.  Of course, she has all the time in the world to market and network.

Terry developed a platform because he has a big endorser.  It must be nice.  I don’t know anyone important.

Marketing isn’t what I signed up for.  I just want to write, ok? 

I’m an artist!  Marketing is beneath me.

Excuses, excuses.  Does this sound familiar?

Look, we all know that marketing doesn’t drive us to write.  Writing drives us to market.   You may think marketing is just a necessary evil (or just plain evil) but if you are passionate about getting your message out to other people, you’re going to have to sell yourself to an audience. 

So stop whining and get to work!

Yeah, the work involves things like blogging and networking – the things I already told you I haven’t mastered.  But if you set your mindset first – know yourself, be yourself, and quit whining – it might not be as tough as you think.

It’s actually tougher!

[If you care to continue the discussion on all things writing, please join me and my WordServe colleagues daily at the WordServe Water Cooler.  I’m thrilled to be part of this newly-launched community of talented writers.]

Is Good Writing Good Enough?

If you’re passionate about life, good probably isn’t good enough.

You don’t just want to be known as a good parent, a good employee, a good friend.  You want to be great!  Maybe even excellent.

Something inside of us wants to be better than good.  

The problem? 

Some days, we’re not so great.  In fact, we’ve not even good.  We barely get by on average and we hope no one will notice when we really screw up.

I was thinking about this dilemma the other day – not being good enough – in the context of writing. 

Some of us want to be great writers.  But great writing takes time.  It takes talent.  It takes discipline and determination.

The truth is, we can’t be great at everything.  And while I’m far from a perfectionist, some days I just don’t want to settle for good.  Which means I have to make some choices.

Enter the dreaded zero sum game.  Time is finite.  Which means the more I strive to excel in one area, the more I neglect another. 

Do you ever find that good just isn’t good enough?

Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone

 

Yesterday, I received a really great email.  It was from a woman I had just met.  A woman who had just picked up a copy of Chasing Superwoman.

“Wow, I just read the first 20 pages and even though I don’t have small children and am not particularly religious, your writing is still talking to me!”

Why did this email mean so much? 

Here’s the quick background. 

This week, I attended a conference of women lawyers and spoke about Chasing Superwoman.  And I was pretty nervous.  What would my peers (and my client!) think about me when I opened up my soul?  Would they think I was too religious?  Even a Jesus freak?

For the record, women lawyers are a tough group.  (I know, I’m one of them.)  Which is why I was a little scared to share my story.  In fact, the woman who sent me the email told me straight up that she was initially reluctant to open my book – yeah, it seemed a little too “religious.”  (I was more than thrilled when she went on to say she didn’t find my writing to be preachy or judgmental – so she kept reading!)

Stepping out of your comfort zone usually involves some risk.  Even some uncertainty.  There’s no guarantee people will respond the way you want them to.  In fact, every time I put myself “out there” I usually have a few second thoughts.

Why don’t I just play it safe?  Why do I have to push the envelope?  What if it backfires?

I still have a lot to learn about stepping out of my comfort zone.  But one thing’s for sure.  It keeps life interesting, doesn’t it? 

In this case, I even made a new friend.