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Archive - September, 2009

In Pursuit of Purpose

 

Hello?

Hello?

I don’t know about you, but I walk around most days asking God what I was made to do.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was made to be the mommy of this one specific child.  And I know that I was made to be in the lives of certain people.   Both are wonderful reasons to be here, but if that’s the extent of what I was made for, then why, at every turn, do I feel that I’m still not fulfilling the ultimate chapter of my story?

I feel the tug all the time.  To do more, to be more.   But I haven’t yet received that wonderful email from above saying “go here and do this”.  I look at my life and realize that while I’ve had struggles, I’ve weathered them pretty well and there’s really no excuse for me not to be living in the sweet spot of God’s calling.  

Of this, I am sure.  God wired me to need to feel that what I do matters.  To know that that who I am as a parent will alter the legacy of my generational line.  And that how I invest in others people’s lives will have an impact on them.  But I don’t have a bullet list of five things that will help get me there.  I don’t know that there is any remedy, other than prayer and seeking His will at all costs (which is a big enough challenge all on its’ own).  All I know is that every day, I thank God that I still feel the need to accomplish something amazing for the kingdom and to bear fruit in ways that only I can do.   As one of my authors, the incomparable Erin Healy said recently, there are worse things than death.  For me, walking through life never knowing what my role in the story is would definitely make the list.

Any words of wisdom?  Where did God plant you for a purpose only you can fulfill?

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Seeing Ourselves as Others Do

mirror, mirro, on the wall

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

 

 Today, our CEO,  Michael Hyatt, blogged about an author we publish in the Fiction division (Ted Dekker and his new book, Green) .  One of the sections of the post was about the marketing done for the book.  As I read through his post, I saw this line “…and his intrepid marketing director, Jennifer Deshler“.    Though I know what it means, “intrepid” is not a word that pops up in my vocabulary often enough so I decided to hit the dictionary and brush up on the full definition

  • Main Entry: in·trep·id
  • Pronunciation: \in-ˈtre-pəd\
  • Function: adjective
  • Etymology: Latin intrepidus, from in- + trepidus alarmed
  • Date: 1680

: characterized by resolute fearlessness, fortitude, and endurance <an intrepid explorer>

Me + Intrepid?  Resolute Fearlessness?  That’s the woman I want to be every day when I wake up, but rarely feel I’ve shown the world when I lay down to sleep at night.  It was such an empowering moment. 

Why are we so held back by our own limited image of who we are and how the world sees us?  And how do we begin to see ourselves as others do?

Since I am constantly challenged here, I’m speaking to myself when I make these assumptions about how we can change our perceptions of who we are:

  1. Ask our friends, coworkers, and family for transparency-When they have good feedback, we need to know it to help transform our internal images.  And when it’s a critique, we really need to hear it.  Who wants to walk around making the same mistakes over and over?
  2. Be willing to step out of our comfort zones-When I’m not at work, I’m pretty gutsy.  There’s not much from an adventurous standpoint I won’t do; especially on a dare.  But at work, part of me wants to stay in the pack so I don’t ruffle feathers, while the other part of me feels driven to stand out from the crowd and make my own way, mistakes and all.
  3. Learn to love who we are-Boy, this is a biggie.  I can rattle off a list of my faults far easier than I can list my unique talents and abilities.  Often, the thing  that keeps me grounded is remembering that we were made in the image of God and trusting that He has a divine plan for each of us and knew this would be one of our hurdles.
  4. Face the fear of failure-One of the most freeing moments of my adult life was while sitting in a meeting with a group of leaders hearing that every person in that room struggled with a fear of failure.  I had thought for so many years that I was alone in this battle.  And it seems that sometimes the best thing that can happen is for us to royally screw up so we learn a new pattern of behavior. 

Does this boil down to an easy fix?  If yes, what would you say is the one thing helps the most? 

We all know people who exude self-assurance.  Because they know inside themselves that they are smart/talented/tenacious, they are seen by others that way.   I’m working to get there…without trepidation.   

 

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In Support of Book Marketers

I have watched a handful of “professionals” share insights about how authors should take their marketing into their own hands, all the while slamming what is being done at the publishing house.  In this post, I hope to help authors see the work from the publishing side and calm fears that some “fresh-out-of-college, overloaded idiot” is the person charged with promoting your books.  *Note: I’ll be saying “Marketing” often in this post–in this case the term covers everything touching promotion of your book-from the folks who book advertising to the publicists who talk to media outlets.

Yep, marketing teams are busy.  Often, we’re slammed.  The whole world of publishing is cyclical, and there is never a time when we have just one book to work on.  But there’s a big gap between being busy and being ineffective. 

Here’s what you should know:

  1. We marketers love our jobs, or we wouldn’t be doing them–Your dreams of becoming a bestseller are put before our own dreams.  We work far more than 40 hours each week making sure you shine.   Managing relationships and egos is one thing, but knowing we are usually the first people asked “what happened?” if a book doesn’t work is pressure we don’t take lightly.
  2. We do not regurgitate ideas–Sure, there are certain things that can and should be done on most books that are added into marketing plans, but each book is given it’s own set of objectives and goals, and we form a plan around things like the hooks of the story, topical interest in the media, and partnership opportunity potential.
  3. We employ outside vendors when needed-We spend a huge portion of yearly budgets on outside companies to manage online campaigns, street teams, and pr campaigns.  Why? So that we can focus on the execution, strategy, and end result.  But sometimes the best focus we can give your book is to keep things in-house.  Let’s face it-even at an outside pr firm you are not someone’s only project, and the expertise of in-house members is exceptional. 
  4.  We are educated, experienced, and professional- Almost all of the people in marketing have a degree tied to it (though I admit that I did not have any prior marketing experience when I joined our team, I had been at Nelson for seven years and knew a lot about publishing).  And while we do have interns and jr. teammembers, those are not the people charged with creating strategies, building relationships with media, or working with sales reps and accounts to get your titles promoted at retail.
  5. We look at projects with an end goal in mind, not just a budget that must be managed-Every marketer I know has gone over budget on projects.  Yes, we are accountable to bottom line numbers, but we go into each project knowing that sometimes the dollars must come second to the strategy. 

The points above speak to the marketers at the publishing house, but You, the author, must take an active role in promoting your books.  While we know that your first priority is to write the books, there are things you can do that don’t take up a ton of time that will pay off for your brand in the long run.  And without you, all we have is a book.  Here’s how you can help make the partnership better:

  • Build a relationship with us- We need to know more about you than the bio on your book jacket.  Let’s chat.
  • Share ideas–We don’t presume to have all the answers.  You know the book better than anyone.  I’ve created a worksheet of questions for our authors to help get to the core questions.  If your team doesn’t have one, start the discussion.
  • Get engaged-You can’t write a book and just return to your cave.  Your competitors will take your spot on the shelf  by creating connections with people online, blogging, and plugging their projects at stores, events, etc.
  • Step up when needed-The publishing house is not a checkbook.  It’s hard for us to respect authors who are never willing to invest in themselves.  We know we’ll be handling the bulk of the expenses, but when you aren’t willing to pay for a night of hotel or extra bookmarks, you are sending the wrong message.

I can’t speak for how other houses run, though I’ve made some assumptions here.  But I can say that my team works this way at Nelson Fiction, and we have a track record to back up the discipline and forward thinking needed to make us the #1 Christian Fiction publisher.  

Publishers have a purpose. And it’s only when you win that we win.

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Retooling Your Personal Brand

retool1

In the first several years of my work experience, no one ever told me about “personal brands”…the assumptions about you and your work ethic that become the tagline people use when talking about you.  Had I known, I probably would have been more careful.  I thought that being a “get things done” girl was fantastic.  My boss loved it,  those in management positions relied on it, and it was my trademark.  If a project landed on my desk, no one need worry-it would be done and done well.

What I didn’t realize is that whilst building this empire of “getting things done”,  I had become a one-woman bulldozer.  I pushed too much, I lacked an ability to listen to other points of view, and I had a need to be patted on the back too often.   What became clear was that upper management liked my drive, and my peers and coworkers wished I would jump overboard.   Thank goodness I had mentors who were candid with me.  The news was painful, but needed.  I would never be a manager of people if I didn’t learn how to get out of the way.  Through coaching, learning to keep my mouth shut, and purposefully putting the spotlight on others rather than myself, I’ve been able to growand bring on a team of top-notch people who know how to stand out from the crowd.

Fast forward to now, and I’m suddenly realizing that my personal brand needs another overhaul.   Rather than being the person communicated to, I am now the communicator.   The items on my plate have changed even over the last year, and I’ve got to readjust my own expectations, those of my leader,  and my team.  As I’ve been thinking about this, I realized there are a few steps that can be done to help come up with a better brand:

  1. Recognize Strengths and Weaknesses- We must be really honest with ourselves about strengths and weaknesses.  It’s becoming clear to me as I’ve grown and responsibilities have changed, that I am less focused on details and now must delegate more often. 
  2. Determine the best use of your time–In order to add the most value to our company or project, we must be clear on the best uses of our time.  While I still enjoy contacting vendors about advertising, it’s no longer the best way for me to spend my time working on author brands. 
  3. Communicate well–This one is challenging for all of us.    Talk openly with your team about how each person contributes best and allow each person to use their strengths.  When new projects arise, dedicate time to sitting together to go through the scope and specific goals rather than parsing out information a bit at a time.  Not doing so leads to frustration on all sides, and conveys a lack of trust to employees.
  4. Hire people who can do things better than you can–One of my authors said this to me a few years ago, and he was right.  I don’t understand html.  And beyond that, I don’t have any passion for learning it.  Rather than using limited time on something I’m not good at and that won’t ultimately grow my business for knowing, why not hire people for projects when needed and task experts in the areas where we are weak?
  5. Make others the superstars-People don’t get enough time in the spotlight.  Once “management” falls into our job responsibilities, the best thing we can do for our team (and ourselves) is to lift up everyone around us.  As a leader, we are lifted up when our teams shine.  And to be sure, it’s really freeing to not be looking for kudos around every corner.
  6. Free others up to make things happen-With delegation comes the need to trust others.  Give people the power to make decisions.  This one thing can solve many problems and keep team members engaged and happy.

What other things do you think are needed to reshape a personal brand?

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