All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

Book Writing Series Step One – The Concept

This is the first part of my series on writing and publishing a book. I want to make a few things clear, if I may. One, not all of these concepts are specific to writing “print” books. Many of these concepts can be used in writing ebooks, magazine articles, short stories, or pretty much anything else one wishes to write. Two, all of these steps aren’t concrete; these are my opinions on the steps one should take, or things one should think about.

Writing
Pedro Ribeiro Simões
via Compfight

This may seem like the most basic step to most people, but it’s actually the one that keeps a lot of people from starting. Every person has to first decide what they want to write about, but it has to be more detailed than what they think.

For instance, you may say you want to write a detective story. Okay, what kind of detective story do you want to write? Do you want your main character to be a male or a female? Is it an agency or an individual? What kind of detective agency; serious crimes, following around people cheating on each other, finding lost children? Is there a particular area of the world your detectives are living in, and do you know enough about that area to write plausibly? What race is your main character; weight, height, background? Are they funny, serious, brooding, good looking, ugly, troubled, perfect, educated, rich, poor, sexual? Are they well known, well liked, well traveled, or are they the opposite? Are they more like James Bond or Easy Rollins or Kinsey Milhone? Or are they actually something else entirely, but end up doing detective like stuff, such as Dirk Pitt or Stone Barrington?

Or maybe you want to write a book about travel. Are you going to try to cover the entire world, or just a specific segment? Are you going to talk about places you’ve been, or places you’ve researched? Will there be images? Will there be history? Are you going to talk about the foods, the demographics, the politics?

Perspective is always key when you decide you want to write something. Almost no one gets away with writing about something they really don’t know anything about. Many years ago a friend and I decided to write a short story about a guy who ran a mining company on the planet Mercury, and how, on his return flight back to Earth, settings on his ship had been altered and, instead of flying back towards Earth, he was heading towards the sun, and had to try to figure out a way to get things changed before he was killed. Sounded like a plausible thing for us, as I wrote the storyline part and my friend dug into a little bit of the science. We submitted the story and got rejected soundly, saying our science wasn’t close to being legitimate enough to make the story plausible. Though the storyline was a pretty good one, we were way out of our realm in trying to write a science fiction story to pull it off.

I told you about my book, which I’m not going to mention here, but expect it in the next post; hey, I get to plug also, right? 🙂 Anyway, it’s a book on leadership and management. I had been thinking about writing that book for years before I started. I had always been the leader of my group as a kid, and when I got my first real job, I worked as a regular employee for 8 months before I was promoted to management, and I’d been in a leadership position ever since until I went into consulting, and even now, I always go into a consulting assignment in a leadership or independent role. While I was a director, twice the place I was working brought in survey companies to question the employees on management, and both times I came out as either the top ranked leader or tied for the top ranked leader. I always had other managers and directors and supervisors coming to me to ask how I would handle situations involving their employees. I felt that this was a subject that I was imminently qualified to write about. And even with that, I still did a little bit of research, because I wanted to have some statistics behind me while I was giving my tips.

Every book written doesn’t necessarily need to have research done, but if facts are put into a book they need to be somewhat accurate. For instance, if you mention the name of a song and the group that sang the song, it had better be correct, unless you’re writing an alternate universe story. If you’re a male and writing the story from a female perspective, you’d better be sure you’ve captured how women think and act correctly, and not just your impression of how women are.

Anyway, this all leads to what all the preparation and concept of what you’re going to write is all about. No one sits down one day and starts writing a book. Most probably, you’ve been thinking about something for a long time. Hopefully it’s become a passion for you, but it’s possible that you’re a hired gun; the process is the same.

What I recommend is to create an outline or a fact sheet, or both. An outline helps you determine in which order you want things to happen in your book. It also allows you to group common themes together if it’s a nonfiction book, or keep the flow of your book together if it’s fiction. A fact sheet allows you to put down facts that you garner from research, or write more detailed biographies of characters you introduce in your story. I know one guy who actually writes mini diaries of all the characters in his books, even if they only appear in one chapter, if he gives them a name. That way, he feels he has a better chance of capturing their personality properly as his story goes along, in case that character gets introduced again. But that’s for another time.

This gets us started on our series. I hope you’ve picked up at least one or two tips, if you needed them. Be looking out for part two of this series.
 

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New Series – Writing And Marketing A Book

In the last couple of weeks, I wrote two posts that got a whole lot of attention. The first one asked the question How Do You Write, and the second one was a tips post on How To Be A Prolific Writer. Then yesterday, I wrote a post highlighting my book Embrace The Lead. That one hasn’t received any comments yet, and it may not, and because it’s still the same day based on statistics (since I’m on the East Coast and the stats won’t be updated until midnight on the West Coast), I don’t even have any ideas how many people have even read that post, if anyone has.

No matter. My thinking, in looking back at the other two posts, is that it might help some people if I talked about the process of writing my first book, since studies have shown that more than 50% of people who have been asked the question as to whether they’ve tried writing a book answered in the affirmative, but when asked the percentage of those who’ve actually finished writing a book, that figure drops to less than 1%.

People have many different reasons for not finishing books. One reason is that they don’t have the time to consistently work on one. Another reason is that the project gets too daunting; no real direction once they’ve started. Another reason is that they start thinking about how others would view them, or if they’d like their book. Some believe that they don’t have what it takes to really write a book and just stop.

Well, I’d like to help out, if I can. So, I’m going to be writing a series of posts geared towards tips on writing a book. We’ll do things step by step, and I’ll mix in some tales of the process that I went through in first writing my book, then trying to market my book, and then finally publishing my book. This will be real world stuff; no lies, no quick money making, just the honest truth. But it’ll end up being a series, and when I’m done, I’ll be putting all the posts in one place at the top so that anyone who wishes to follow the series later on can do it, just like my series on blogging tips.

So I don’t overwhelm anybody, I’m going to restrict myself to one post a day on the subject, and then possibly one post on another subject on the same day. I don’t really know how long the series will be right now, but I’ll be numbering them as I go along, so everyone will know the order to read them in. I hope they’ll be as entertaining as they will attempt to be informative. And please, if there are any questions on each part, go ahead and ask, but don’t jump ahead; I’ll let you know if you’re jumping ahead at any point.

Stay tuned; there are other changes that will be coming to this blog, as I morph myself around just a little bit. Always in the process of change; better than stagnation at any level.


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Embrace The Lead

I must be the worst promoter in the world. I just realized that I’ve never really talked about one book that’s more special to me than any other book I’ve ever come into contact with.

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Enjoy this pic; the book’s
over there to the left

That would be a book called Embrace The Lead – Strategies for Management in the 21st Century. Why is this book so special?

Because I wrote it; yup, I’m a published author. Of course, I’ve mentioned it briefly in the past, especially when I wrote a post on how to publish a book. It’s self published, but I have an ISBN number, which means I’m considered as much of a publisher as the big boys, and thus I could sell my book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble if I so chose to.

Let me talk a little bit about my book. It’s a book on leadership and management, and in it I discuss the state of business, employees, and management in today’s working environment.

Let’s face the fact that no one is buying the old story about your place of employment being a “family” anymore. The challenges for employers thus has gotten tougher. It was always relatively tough to begin with, because one thing companies almost never invest in is leadership and management training for their managers and supervisors.

Everyone has reported to someone without the skills for the role, even if they had supreme skills to do the task at hand. In today’s world, bad managers have it even harder because today’s employees aren’t going to stick around in fear of not being able to get another job. Even now, in a bad economy, most employees will look for something else and be gone in a heartbreak because they know they can’t trust companies anymore. Without managers who are also good leaders, there’s nothing encouraging them to stay.

In the book I talk about today’s employees; why managers may be like they are; give a breakdown on different employee types; and discuss tips on criteria for becoming a good manager. For anyone who is in a leadership position at their company, or for anyone who’s thinking about it, this book is for you, from someone who’s been there. Did I happen to mention before that I also do leadership and management training, as well as executive coaching? Why yes, in my post on About pages, which was one of my most popular posts at one time.

If you’re interested in learning more about my book Embrace The Lead – Strategies for Management in the 21st Century, click on the link to see more, including testimonials. I also sell it in two versions; the ebook, and the soft cover, which, if you ask me nicely, I’ll even autograph for you when I send it to you. Now, how many other folks are you going to be reading today who’ve written a full book, and not just an ebook? 🙂
 

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World Diabetes Day – My Story

Today, November 14th, 2008, is World Diabetes Day, something I initially mentioned when talking about National Diabetes Month. Each year, millions of adults and children learn that they’re diabetic; some don’t learn it until they’ve done serious damage to themselves. Being aware of changes in your body that you can’t explain and not being afraid to find out what might be going on could help you avert major problems later in life. I am a diabetic, and I’ve been diagnosed for 11 years. I’d like to tell you my story.

The Pincushion Effect
duisburgbunny via Compfight

Eleven years ago, I was having the best and the worst year of my life. I got married in May of 1997, my first and only marriage, and I’ve had nothing but a great time ever since. In 1997, I took the very first vacation of my life, which was the week after I got married; man, that was a long time before taking a vacation, but my dad never took a vacation until he was in his 50’s; guess I’m a slacker.

Eleven years ago I also had breast surgery to remove a lump that was causing me pain. It wasn’t cancerous, and I have no idea where it came from, and I’d never even thought about the possibility of it being cancerous, but it was my first surgery ever. And I got it approved and paid for by the insurance company; talk about how knowledge will help you achieve things that others might not know about.

Eleven years ago, a few days after my 38th birthday, I was driving back to work from lunch in another town about 10 minutes from the hospital I was working in at the time. I had a co-worker with me, and we were going through a construction zone. In a couple of minutes, I was pulled over by a police car. The officer came to the car and said I was speeding through a work zone. I said that I knew what the speed limit was and wasn’t speeding, but he said the speed limit was reduced in that area. I said I never saw a sign, and my co-worker said there was a sign that I must have missed. I took the ticket and continued driving back to work, but I did notice that I could barely read any of the signs.

That wasn’t the first day, however. I’d noticed it most of the time for a few weeks while driving home from work. I lived over an hour away from where I worked, and it wasn’t a major highway that I drove on, so there weren’t a bunch of signs, and rarely much traffic. Yet, I noticed that I was having vision problems. I’d mentioned it to my wife, and said that it was only when driving home in the evenings; I never had the problem in the morning. So, on the day I drove home after getting the ticket and mentioning it to her again, she said we should head over to the ophthalmologist to have him take a look.

Diabetes! 217/365
Dennis Skley via Compfight

Talk about serendipity. I had gone to the same place, Sterling Optical, for about 18 or 19 years, and I’d had this same guy looking at my eyes for at least 13 of those years. My prescription hadn’t changed in at least 10 years, and I’d just had an eye exam a month before I got married. So, it was easy for me to walk in and have him take a quick look. He didn’t like what he saw, and said my vision had changed drastically from the last time I was there, and his conclusion immediately was that I might be diabetic.

The breath caught in my throat at his words. Not that I was overly surprised, because it ran in my family, but because out of all my relatives who’d gotten it, I possibly was now the youngest to get it. I figured I had at least six or seven more years before I had to think about it; now it didn’t look that way.

He recommended that I see my primary care physician, which was slightly problematic. I had never selected one because I hadn’t been to the doctors in many years. The last time I’d seen a doctor was 11 years earlier (that #11 pops up all over the place lol); typical American male in that regard, even though I’d had some issues that I probably should have seen a doctor for.

I was raised in a different time; you only went to doctors when your mother took you, when you broke something, or when you were on death’s bed; that was the rule at the time. My wife wanted me to go to a doctor, but I took a detour step first. Since I worked in a hospital and the emergency room was right behind my office, I went in there the next morning and talked with the physician assistant about it. He took a quick glucose test, saw that my number was just under 300, and told me I had to see a doctor; if it had been 50 points higher he’d have had to admit me.

That was that. I called this one doctor with whom I had a cordial relationship with, he took me in, diagnosed me, and started me on the first round of what would become regular check ups and visits with someone about diabetes, including education. Though I’m not the best patient in the world, I do know how to take care of myself and how I’m supposed to eat, and I follow it more often than I don’t follow it, which is a good thing.

Within a week my glucose came down, which was a good thing otherwise I couldn’t have had my surgery, and over the course of the last eleven years I’ve been pretty good for the most part. If they hadn’t changed the high limit from what it was when I was diagnosed I’d be considered as almost perfect for nine of of the eleven years.

As time has progressed, I have had to go on medication, and presently take two different pills a day and two shots of insulin, which I started a year ago on November 2nd. I’m not considered dependent, as it turns out there are different variations of insulin, but it’s helped me boost what the pills can’t do on their own. If I can drop some weight, I could probably get off insulin; but, as some of you know, that’s not quite as easy as I wish it was.

The main point of this story is that everyone needs to pay attention to symptoms that may not necessarily be what you might think are diabetic symptoms. My mother noticed my dad’s diabetes because he started losing a lot of weight, which he himself didn’t notice. I’ve met people who noticed it because they were having numbness in their limbs, and many people notice something wrong when they’re going to the bathroom all the time, or constantly thirsty. Here’s a link to many of the symptoms of diabetes, things you should be looking at if you notice any of them occurring with you or your friends and family members. Caught early, at least you have some kind of fighting chance.

There, my contribution to World Diabetes Day. If you get a chance, check out this interesting post on the day, with videos no less.
 

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What’s Your Market

Earlier today I was at what we call a “mastermind” group. Basically, there’s four of us who try to get together once a month to discuss where we are in our businesses and try to see if we can help each other to stay on target for our business and personal goals.

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definitely not dinosaurs…

While discussing an idea, one of the participants asked the question “what would our market be.” Truthfully, I didn’t quite understand the question, and went with my gut response, which is usually “why do we need to figure out who our market is?

I come from the school of “just do it“, because one thing I notice a lot of people do is think about something to the point where they eventually don’t do anything. I’m the type who’ll think about something, think some more, then finally come to a realization it’s time to get it done and worry about other things later on.

Later on, we came back to this topic, and I finally said I wasn’t sure what her point was, as in, what she was asking me. She then explained herself, and at that point I started to understand it a bit more. We then talked about the website of mine that I highlighted the other day, Medical Billing Answers, and she asked me who I thought that market was.

I first said almost anyone, which she didn’t like, so I thought about it some more and I said that when the idea first came to me, I was thinking about the medical billing consumer, that person who has questions about their medical bills that can’t find anyone impartial to ask their questions of. Then, after the site was created and some of the articles were up on the site, it turned out that the biggest consumer of my site, as in the people asking me questions, were people who did medical billing, not the consumers. That’s how I came to see that particular site as being for anyone, since obviously I’m not good at deciding who my consumer is.

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She then asked me about this blog, which she’s never seen, and asked me who my market is, and who my consumers are. I actually drew a blank; I’ve never really thought about it before. I mean, I’ve thought about the topics often enough, but even when I launched this blog and wrote my first post, I talked more about what I wanted to do with this blog than who I wanted to serve, or who I was hoping would visit.

The truth is that I want everyone to visit this blog; is that really too much to ask? lol What types of visitors am I looking for, beyond everyone? Tough question indeed. Let’s see if I can define it with some honesty, since that’s what I’m all about.

First, I’m hoping that some of the visitors who come here are buyers. I’m hoping that some of the things people are thinking about buying are some of the things I talk about, or some of the things I promote.

Second, I’m hoping that some of the visitors who come here are hoping to learn something. I talk about a lot of things that many other folks don’t talk about, or, hopefully, in some detail that they might not go into, such as my post on how to be a prolific writer.

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who wants more of this?

Third, I’m hoping that some of the visitors who come here are looking to see how someone else who’s going through the things they’re going through in trying to find ways to make money with their blogs is doing it, and is ready to share in the ride of success; never failure, as any time something doesn’t work, it was just a learning opportunity on the way to bigger and better things. Then again, I’m not big on the word failure, calling it experimentation instead In any case, I share when I make mistakes concerning other things with computing, like when I talked about wiping out all my files and the process I had to go through to recover them; ouch!

Fourth, I’m hoping that some of the visitors who come here are looking to share their experiences with me and with anyone else who reads this blog, because I truly feel that we are a community if we wish to be, and that in every situation, every encounter, that can be shared with someone else, there’s something for someone to learn from.

Fifth, I’m hoping that all of the visitors to this site will find something to entertain them<, to intrigue them, to shock them> and make them think about something they’ve probably never thought about before. To touch their hearts, share something with them that they’ve probably never heard of before, and generally to have fun. If we can’t have a little bit of fun, education, and thinking mixed in, what’s the point, right?

I’ll put this out to you, the readers of this blog. Help me help and entertain you. I don’t know all the answers, but, as you’ve seen, I’ll do some research here and there. How do you like what you’ve seen thus far? Is there a topic that you’d like to see me cover more, or less? What kind of information are you looking for that you might be looking to purchase? What kind of products? What is it that I can help you with? And, what do you think my market is, or should be? Turning it around, what is it that you’d like to help me with?

By the way, I will probably be giving more information about myself over the coming weeks, just to some of you can learn more things about me and all my businesses, because there’s obviously more than my post on about pages covered. Who knows; I just might get to work with you someday. 🙂
 

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