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You’re a businessperson. You may not think of yourself as a writer, but you know that writing well can boost your results and your career. Naturally, you want to do better. Even though writing and storytelling and blogging and SEO aren’t your day job, you want to do them better.

You need to get the most value you can from your reading time. That’s why every week I pick the one post from the web’s multitudes that will help you get better. This week I’m pointing you to a post on what book promotion companies wish you knew.

From Penny Sansevieri: 10 Things Book Promotion Companies Wish Authors Knew

“I wish I was magic. If I had one super power it would probably be flying or you know, selling a truckload of books. It’s funny though how often authors think that book promotion companies are magic. Yes, we know a lot of stuff – it’s our business to know. But there are limits to what a good book promotion company can do for a book. Getting reviews, getting traction on Amazon are all good things, but it takes a village and it takes an author willing to dig in and do the work. That’s the real magic. But is there more to it than that? You bet. Let’s have a look at the 10 things book promotion companies wish authors knew:”

Here’s a link to my recent post titled “Writing a Book: Try what works for others first.”

Sources I Check Regularly

I find the posts and articles that I share with you on The Writing Edge in many places. But there are a few that provide insightful pieces again and again. Here they are.

Ali Luke

Alliance of Independent Authors

Ann Handley

Frances Caballo

Jane Friedman

IngramSpark

Jenn dePaula

Jerry Jenkins

Joel Friedlander

Joanna Penn

Kindlepreneur

Michele DeFilippo

Penny Sansevieri

Daphne Gray-Grant

Becky Robinson’s Weaving Influence

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Stephen King says that if you want to be a writer, there are two things you must do: read a lot and write a lot. This is about the “read a lot” part. I include reading lists and book reviews that will help you do business more effectively and write better for business.

In this post, I point you to reviews of Innovation Capital: How to Compete–and Win–Like the World’s Most Innovative Leaders, Cracking Complexity: The Breakthrough Formula for Solving Just About Anything Fast, Feedback (and Other Dirty Words): Why We Fear It, How to Fix It, You’re It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When It Matters Most, and Think Like Amazon: 50 1/2 Ideas to Become a Digital Leader. Plus there’s a list of books for summer reding from the faculty of the Stanford GSB.

From Bob Morris: Innovation Capital

“I realize that no brief commentary such as mine can possibility do full justice to the quality of information, insights, and counsel that Dyer, Furr, and Lefrandt provide. My hope now is to suggest why, for many executives who read it, this book will be their most valuable source for personal growth and professional development. It helps those who read it to think innovatively about innovation.”

From Michael McKinney: Cracking Complexity

“THERE ARE complicated problems, and there are complex problems. Complicated problems are technical in nature. They are linear, orderly, and predictable. Complex problems are adaptive challenges. They are messy, unstable, and unpredictable. ‘Having a wedding is complicated; having a happy marriage is complex.'”

From Skip Prichard: Why We Fear Feedback

“Feedback: the mere mention of the word can make our blood pressure rise and our defenses go up. For many of us, it’s a dirty word that we associate with bias, politics, resentment, and self-doubt. In their book, Feedback (and Other Dirty Words): Why We Fear It, How to Fix It, Tamra Chandler and Laura Grealish argue that feedback, when done right, has been proven to be the most effective means of improving communication and performance for you and your organization.”

From strategy+business: Get ready for the “you’re it” moment

“Growing into a meta-leader gives you the tools to skillfully manage any situation.”

From Steve Denning: How Amazon Became Agile

“Many large organizations have spent decades unsuccessfully battling bureaucracy. In Think Like Amazon: 50 1/2 Ideas to Become a Digital Leader (McGrawHill Education, April 2019, John Rossman shows how Amazon has tamed bureaucracy and has become, in the process, one of the most agile firms on the planet, as well as the most valuable. Rossman’s book offers a clear and succinct account of the Amazon mindset and offers ’50 ½ ideas’ to enable others to learn how to think—and act—like Amazon.”

From Steve Hawk and Jenny Luna: What to Read This Summer

“Escape the heat with books recommended by Stanford business professors.”

Reading recommendations are a regular feature of this blog. Want more recommendations about what to read? Check out my Three Star Leadership blog, Michael McKinney’s LeadingBlog, and Skip Prichard’s Leadership Insights.

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It’s hard to write a book while you work full-time at something else. It’s even harder because you still have family and social obligations.  Those relationships matter. It would be great if you didn’t lose your mind, too.

You’ll try any writing tip that promises it will make everything work. no matter how outrageous. You could learn a thing or two from Damon Runyon.

Runyon was a newspaper man and a short story writer. His short stories were about nightlife in Prohibition-Era New York. His characters had memorable names, like “Nathan Detroit” and “Goodtime Charlie.” Two of his stories were turned into the musical, “Guys and Dolls.”

Runyon did more than work as a newspaperman and write great short stories. He also played the horses. A lot. That’s why he came up with the line that you should remember every time you’re tempted to try some wacko writing tip. Here’s what Runyon said.

“The race may not always be to the swift, nor victory to the strong, but that’s how you bet.”

Whether you’re a full-time writer or a part-time writer, the big challenge is to write more better stuff in less time. To chase that goal, try different things. If you want to write more good stuff in less time, it won’t happen if you continue to do what you’re doing today. Start by trying things that have worked for everybody else first. That’s the way to bet.

Most writers do their best work in a two-and-a-half-hour period that starts about an hour after they get up. Try that first. That’s the way to bet. If it doesn’t work, try something else.

Here’s another one. Most writers do their best work in blocks of about 50 minutes followed by a break. Try that first. That’s the way to bet. If it doesn’t work, try something else.

Are you picking up a pattern here? If you want to get better, start by trying what works for most people. That’s the way to bet. If it doesn’t work, try something else.

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Stephen King says that if you want to be a writer, there are two things you must do: read a lot and write a lot. This is about the “read a lot” part. I include reading lists and book reviews that will help you do business more effectively and write better for business.

In this post, I point you to reviews of Powerhouse: 13 Teamwork Tactics that Build Excellence and Unrivaled Success, Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership, The Good Fight: Use Productive Conflict to Get Your Team and Organization Back on Track, Talk to Me: How Voice Computing Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Think, and Mission-Driven Leadership: My Journey as a Radical Capitalist. There’s also a pointer to Michael McKinney’s first look at leadership books for July 2019.

From Skip Prichard: How to Create a Powerhouse Team

“Their new book, Powerhouse: 13 Teamwork Tactics that Build Excellence and Unrivaled Success, combines practice and theory and mixes in numerous soccer stories at the same time. It’s an invitation for all of us to build powerhouse teams.”

From Michael McKinney: How to Tackle Big Challenges in A Networked World

“In a networked world, the question becomes. ‘How do you design and guide complex collaborations in open, loosely connected networks when no one can tell anyone else what to do?’ Without going into a critique of society, this has become a major concern across a wide range of organizations and institutions. To answer this question, Ed Morrison and his Strategic Doing team* have designed an agile approach to strategic planning that they present in their book, Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership”

From Wharton: Healthy Conflict at Work: Using Friction as a Force for Good

“It sounds like an oxymoron, but psychologist and business strategist Liane Davey insists there is such a thing as healthy conflict at work. Fighting at work doesn’t have to be destructive or end in someone going home with a figurative black eye. Instead, office tensions can be a starting point for respectful dialogue, problem-solving and behavioral change that helps teams move closer toward their goals.”

From Theodore Kinni: Conversational computing

“James Vlahos’s new book, Talk to Me, is a good starting point for exploring how voice computing could disrupt your business.”

From Mark Bertolini: I Sold Aetna To Fix A Broken Healthcare System. Here’s Why

“Excerpted from Mission-Driven Leadership: My Journey as a Radical Capitalist, by Mark Bertolini, 2019, Currency, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House.”

From Michael McKinney: First Look: Leadership Books for July 2019

“Here’s a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in July 2019.”

Reading recommendations are a regular feature of this blog. Want more recommendations about what to read? Check out my Three Star Leadership blog, Michael McKinney’s LeadingBlog, and Skip Prichard’s Leadership Insights.

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If you’re a part-time author, you’ve got a lot of things on your plate. You’ve got your day job, of course. Then there are family obligations, what you do for recreation, and any volunteer work you do.

Writing time is scarce. You must make the best of it. The only way to do that is to throw all your mental energy into writing when it’s time to write. Here’s how.

Same Time, Same Place

Write in the same place at the same time, all the time. This helps establish a writing habit that says to your brain, “It’s time to write.” There’s a bonus. If you write in the same place at the same time, all the time, the people who love you will let you write.

Lighten Your Cognitive Load

Your brain, like any other muscle, gets tired if it has too much to do. Make things easy on your brain. Automate as many decisions and processes as you can. Arrange your work the same way every time and you won’t have to think about that, either.

Eliminate Distractions

Distractions are the devil. You want to write in the largest continuous chunk of time you can. For most people, that’s somewhere around 50 minutes before you take a break. Any distraction breaks up your pattern and forces you to go through a restart when you turn back to writing.

Shut off your phone. Warn your kids of the grave dangers of disturbing you, then close the door. One client of mine had a separate computer that she used only for writing. It only had writing files on it and had no internet connection.

Know Where You’re Going to Start

You should be able to get right into writing, and the only way to do that is to know exactly where you will start. Ernest Hemingway and many other great writers have done that. One, John Barth, even suggests stopping in the middle of a sentence. Whether or not you go that far, end every writing session with a plan for precisely what you will do the next time.

Develop Pre- and Post-Session Rituals

It’s all part of the writing habit. Do the same things every time you write. My pre-start ritual includes starting my work playlist. Create a post session ritual. It should include planning for the next session and any work you should do between now and then.

Between Sessions

Do everything you can between session so you can get right into writing next time and write steadily. Do your research. Order your supplies and put them where they’re supposed to be.

Bottom Line

You’ll do your best work if you throw your full mental energy into writing at every writing session. Establish the writing habit, same time, same place. Make as many decisions as you can automatic. Eliminate distractions. Do what you must between sessions so you can start strong.

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You’re a businessperson. You may not think of yourself as a writer, but you know that writing well can boost your results and your career. Naturally, you want to do better. Even though writing and storytelling and blogging and SEO aren’t your day job, you want to do them better.

You need to get the most value you can from your reading time. That’s why every week I pick the one post from the web’s multitudes that will help you get better. This week I’m pointing you to a post of Mark Bowden’s writing tips.

If you intend to write a nonfiction book, read these tips.

From Mark Bowden: 5 Writing Tips

“Mark Bowden is the author of 13 books, including Black Hawk Down and the riveting new true crime book, The Last Stone, about fiercely dedicated police detectives working on a cold case that began in 1975 involving the disappearance of two sisters from a shopping mall in Maryland. Bowden shares five writing tips, plus two bonus tips.”

Here’s a link to my recent post titled “How to Beat Outline Block.

Sources I Check Regularly

I find the posts and articles that I share with you on The Writing Edge in many places. But there are a few that provide insightful pieces again and again. Here they are.

Ali Luke

Alliance of Independent Authors

Ann Handley

Frances Caballo

Jane Friedman

IngramSpark

Jenn dePaula

Jerry Jenkins

Joel Friedlander

Joanna Penn

Kindlepreneur

Michele DeFilippo

Penny Sansevieri

Daphne Gray-Grant

Becky Robinson’s Weaving Influence

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Stephen King says that if you want to be a writer, there are two things you must do: read a lot and write a lot. This is about the “read a lot” part. I include reading lists and book reviews that will help you do business more effectively and write better for business.

In this post, I point you to reviews of Superhuman Innovation: Transforming Business with Artificial Intelligence, Fearless Success, Master You1Motivation: Three Scientific Truths for Achieving Your Goals, In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School, and Bulletproof Problem Solving: The One Skill That Changes Everything. Plus there’s a summer reading list from Harvard Business School faculty members.

From Skip Prichard: How Artificial Intelligence Will Supercharge Work

“Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the new electricity of our times. That’s what Chris Duffey, creative technologist says about this incredible technology revolutionizing industries the world over. Chris spearheads Adobe Creative Cloud strategic development partnerships. His new book Superhuman Innovation showcases how AI will supercharge the workforce, the world of work, and can be harnessed to deliver powerful change. It is a practical guide to how AI and Machine Learning are impacting not only how businesses, brands, and agencies innovate, but also what they innovate: products, services and content.”

From Michael McKinney: Business Lessons from the Top 0.01%

“MORE THAN 400 climbers have reached the summit of Mount Everest. There are currently 2450 active Navy Seals. 536 astronauts have journeyed into outer space. But since 1946, only 257 pilots have flown as Blue Angels. In other words, 0.01% of all U.S. military pilots in history have achieved the unparalleled performance symbolized by the Blue Angels gold helmet.”

From the LeadChange Group: The 3 scientific truths of motivation

“Lead Change is a leadership media destination with a unique editorial focus on driving change within organizations, teams, and individuals. Lead Change, a division of Weaving Influence, publishes twice monthly with SmartBrief. Today’s post is an excerpt from ‘Master Your Motivation: Three Scientific Truths for Achieving Your Goals’ by Susan Fowler.”

From Chana R. Schoenberger: Diving into deep learning

“In their new book on what makes high schools work, education experts Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine offer vital lessons for business leaders as well.”

From Bob Morris: Bulletproof Problem Solving

“They introduce a seven-step process that almost anyone can use — alone or with others — to solve almost any problem, assuming it is the right one to solve.”

From Sean Silverthorne: These Aren’t Beach Books, but Managers Should Read Them Anyway

“As you contemplate your summer reading, consider these recent books from Harvard Business School management scholars that can boost your career and improve on-the-ground management skills.”

Wally’s Comment: There are more recommendations in the comments on the list.

Reading recommendations are a regular feature of this blog. Want more recommendations about what to read? Check out my Three Star Leadership blog, Michael McKinney’s LeadingBlog, and Skip Prichard’s Leadership Insights.

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Most of us learned to write for the first time in elementary school. That’s why so many of us are outline-dependent. We imagine an English teacher at the front of the room waiting for us to hand in our outline before we can write.

I try to get most of my clients who are planning a book to use something other than an outline in the initial stages. I suggest starting with the stories they want to tell or creating a list of the big ideas they want in the book. I encourage them to write a zero draft. That’s the draft that comes before the first draft.

To create a zero draft, write your book straight through. Don’t stop for research and to fine-tune your wording. Make any notes you must but keep going. You won’t get a draft you want to publish, but you’ll learn a lot about what will make a great book. As a bonus, your other drafts will go faster.

That’s way too much work for most people. Besides, there’s that English teacher at the front of the room waiting for the outline.

The Purpose of An Outline in The Early Stages

When you’re in the early stages of planning your book, outline only big, important things. You can add details later, but first, you need to get the big stuff in the right order.

That often leads to what I call “outline block.” Outline block happens when you’re putting an outline together and you can’t decide whether point A should come before point B or vice versa. When that happens, stop tinkering with your outline and concentrate on the two ideas.

Sketch out how you’ll use those ideas in your book.

Write the introduction to point A. You don’t have to write any more about point A. Just the introduction will do. Next, write the transition from point A to point B. Finally, write the introduction to point B.

When you’re done, do the same thing, but putting the points in a different order.

What Will Happen

There are three things that could happen. In one scenario, one order is the clear winner. Go no further. Return to your outline with your problem resolved.

The other possibility is that neither one is a clear winner. When that happens, it’s time to get creative. What changes would make things work?

Maybe you need a third point between the two to carry the transition. Or, maybe those two points shouldn’t be adjacent at all. Perhaps they’ll work in either order if you change the wording.  You may not need a big change. A little change is often enough.

Do this to make progress instead of staring at your outline and hitting yourself in the head.

Bottom Line

Test the order of points using this technique. But don’t fool yourself. Don’t just think about the introductions and transition. Write them out.

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You’re a businessperson. You may not think of yourself as a writer, but you know that writing well can boost your results and your career. Naturally, you want to do better. Even though writing and storytelling and blogging and SEO aren’t your day job, you want to do them better.

You need to get the most value you can from your reading time. That’s why every week I pick the one post from the web’s multitudes that will help you get better. This week I’m pointing you to a post on capturing the great ideas I know you have.

From Joanna Penn: Writing Tips: 11 Tools To Capture Your Creative Ideas

“Every writer has had more than one moment where a brilliant idea pops into our mind. Sadly, if we don’t capture those ideas quickly they may be forgotten in the busy rush of life. Trevor Carss shares 11 free (or inexpensive) ways to make sure your genius story ideas never go astray again.”

You may also like my post, “Creativity: Capturing Your Ideas.”

Here’s a link to my recent post titled “Why you should do a book proposal, even if you self-publish.”

Sources I Check Regularly

I find the posts and articles that I share with you on The Writing Edge in many places. But there are a few that provide insightful pieces again and again. Here they are.

Ali Luke

Alliance of Independent Authors

Ann Handley

Frances Caballo

Jane Friedman

IngramSpark

Jenn dePaula

Jerry Jenkins

Joel Friedlander

Joanna Penn

Kindlepreneur

Michele DeFilippo

Penny Sansevieri

Daphne Gray-Grant

Becky Robinson’s Weaving Influence

Read Full Article
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Stephen King says that if you want to be a writer, there are two things you must do: read a lot and write a lot. This is about the “read a lot” part. I include reading lists and book reviews that will help you do business more effectively and write better for business.

In this post, I point you to reviews of Labyrinth: The Art of Decision-Making, Bravespace Workplace: Making Your Company Fit for Human Life, Connected Strategy: Building Continuous Customer Relationships for Competitive Advantage, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, and The Upset: Life (Sports), Death…and the Legacy We Leave in the Middle. Plus summer reading suggestions from the Columbia University business faculty.

From Michael McKinney: 16 Rules for Effective Decision-Making

“In Labyrinth: The Art of Decision-Making, Pawel Motyl examines ‘The most prevalent weak spots in decision-making processes, not only in business but in life in general; during crisis and calmer times; in both individual and group decisions.'”

From Skip Prichard: 7 Needs Work Should Fulfill

“Moe Carrick’s new book, Bravespace Workplace: Making Your Company Fit for Human Life, recognizes the importance of people so much that the dedication at the very front of it is ‘dedicated to workers everywhere. You are the heart of it all, and it’s what you do every day that makes your company great.’ How very true that is, and how incredible for Moe to recognize it even before page one.”

From Bob Morris: Connected Strategy

“Siggelkow and Terwiesch provide an abundance of information, insights, and counsel that will prepare almost any organization’s leaders to recognize a customer’s need, identify a product and/or service that will fill that need, request from the client feedback that either confirms the solution or modifies it to the client’s satisfaction, and then respond appropriately, thereby strengthening the relationship with the client. In other words, collaborate with a client to fill a previously unmet need.”

From Wharton: Life Hacks from Marcus Aurelius: How Stoicism Can Help Us

“Stepping back from emotional and physical chaos to reach a state of calm, clear-headed thinking is the bedrock of Stoicism, a philosophy famously practiced by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. Although Stoicism was conceived in ancient times, its guiding principles are very relevant today, according to cognitive behavioral psychotherapist Donald Robertson. His new book, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, examines how Stoicism informed the leader’s personal and political life. It also shows how the philosophy can help with the challenges of modern life, including work.”

From Kevin Eikenberry: The Upset: Life (Sports), Death … And the Legacy WE Leave in the Middle

“The Upset was written, with the help of John Driver (including chapters from family members) during this whirlwind of fame, awards, and the severe downward spiral of Tyler’s health. That alone makes this an inspirational story. But there is far more to Tyler’s story that an illness and a crazy love of Purdue athletics.”

From the Columbia University Business Faculty: Scholars’ Summer Reading Picks

“It’s summer, and many of us are scaling down our ambition — at least as far as reading lists go. Scholarly tomes are shoved to the back of the bookshelf. Out come lighter, more palatable novels and celebrity bios, ready to tote on vacation. Not so our Chazen Senior Scholars. They plan to use the coming months to stuff their capacious brains with ever more knowledge. We caught up with a few of them to find out what books they’d be cracking this summer.”

Reading recommendations are a regular feature of this blog. Want more recommendations about what to read? Check out my Three Star Leadership blog, Michael McKinney’s LeadingBlog, and Skip Prichard’s Leadership Insights.

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