Saturday, August 30, 2008

Claim your own Success

"You don’t need mass appeal or millions of customers to be a success. But your definition of success needs to be a keystone of your brand. You decide what success is, then show the world how magnificently successful you are by that light... You’ve got to create the fame and fortune in your own outlook first. Claim your position."

Sonia Simone

I read this quote in Robin Good's Newsletter several times because this is exactly what I've been feeling and trying to explain in the business book I've been writing, but I struggled with the words to express that feeling. What is success, or more importantly, what is success to me? Is being a publishing success really selling a million copies of my books? Is it having one of my authors discuss her book on Oprah? Or is success simply transforming a manuscript into a book so that the author gets her moment in the sun and I earn enough to pay the print bill? Right now, my success is closer to the latter than to Oprah, but do I really need Oprah to call Medusa's Muse a successful publishing company?

Success is a tricky thing. Too often we allow others to define what success is for us, from our parents to our spouses, our boss and our friends. Everyone seems to agree success is related to cash: the more you make, the more successful you are. I keep seeing new self-publishers and authors beating themselves to death with the wish for fame and fortune, spending more money on their books with the belief that one more advertising campaign will snare that longed for recognition. Too quickly, they give up in disgust, convinced they were failures because they could only sell one hundred copies of their book.

By whose definition are they failures? Is success entirely about money? What else defines success?

I think that success is linked to your long term goals rather than to your bank account. If you dream of getting rich on your books and retiring from your boring day job, then yeah, you need to sell a million copies to create that type of success, and unfortunately the odds of that happening aren't good. But why not try?

My long term dream is to be a Muse for future generations. I want a big house or a plot of land where artists of all types can come and stay and be fed and nurtured while they create their art. Seeing as I can't afford a house right now, I started a publishing company so that a few writers will get singular attention and share their words with the world. In the short term, I need Medusa's Muse to break even and pay for itself, otherwise I'll never get to that big house with all those writers and musicians. I don't expect the press to pay for my house, so I'm back in school to be an Orientation and Mobility Instructor like Laura Fogg. Success for me right now means being able to create art which I am passionate about and that pays for itself. Oprah Winfrey is welcome to visit if she'd like, but it isn't a requirement.

Before you head out into the world of publishing with your trunk full of books, write down what success means to you; not what it means to your mother or best friend, but what it means to YOU. Keep that piece of paper with you to help you stay on track. Are you following your own dreams of success or straying into what your grandparents expect?

And head over to Sonia's blog for more excellent advice about Marketing, Small Business, and making your dreams come true.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Article in Business Week About On Line Survival

While on my quasi hiatus over the Summer, I collected several interesting articles about publishing, book marketing, and social networking. Here's one of the more interesting ones:

From Business Week - Book Publishers: Learn From Digg, Yelp—Even Gawker
Book publishing could keep itself vital by taking a page from Web 2.0 technologies, but it has a long way to go. Here are some lessons

This article intrigued me because I am interested in the way the Internet and other forms of technology are changing business, especially the book business. Look at the Music Industry. For the last fifteen years Music Companies have struggled to retain control over their property, the bands they produce and the music those bands create. Anyone can download music for free with ease and share it with all of their friends, on-line and off. Plus, a band doesn't have to be "signed" anymore to find exposure and listeners. Thanks to I Tunes and My Space, your weekend garage band can be listened to by a world wide audience. However, with so many bands competing on line for your attention, how do they stand out from the white noise of the Internet?

Now it's the book industry's turn to figure out how to survive in a digital age. Some publishers are wondering if books are dead. If so, what's next? Many smaller publishers are only creating e-books because they believe e-book readers and on-line zines are the future. In ten years, paper books will be obsolete. The article implies everyone will be reading on a Kindle.

Rather than be afraid of all these technological changes and the impact they are having in the book industry, I want to learn and strategize so Medusa's Muse will survive into the future. So should every publisher.

Just like the music industry, the book market is flooded with books from small presses and self-publishers, all competing for the attention of a decreasing reading market. How can we find our audience? This article discusses that.

From the article:

Reading a book is an incredibly solitary experience. That's both a blessing and a curse. Like most busy professionals, I don't have a lot of downtime. What little free time I have could easily be filled by other pursuits—chiefly, time with a husband I rarely see. When I do commit to a book I love, I want to talk about it. This impulse explains why book clubs were all the rage in the 1990s.

There has to be a way for Web 2.0—a movement whose raison d'etre is to connect people—to meet the ongoing need for building community around books.

What's your online strategy?

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Daughter Went Back To School Today, Do dah, Do dah!

Forget Christmas, THIS is the best time of year. Back to school! No more, "I'm bored," every fifteen minutes. I try to focus on my child and enjoy each moment with her, especially now that she seems to grow even faster, but by the beginning of August we're both tired of each other. She thinks I'm dull (don't all thirteen year olds feel that way?) and I think she's whiny. No matter how many times we play Uno or go for walks or do an art project together, there's still this level of weariness neither of us are any good at covering up.

I think the fact that my daughter gets tired of me is a good thing, actually. She is growing up and eager to explore her own life with her own friends. No tween wants to spend months with their Mom, even a tween with disabilities. The fact she is ready to go back to school with hardly a glance back at me when I dropped her at her classroom is a good thing (regardless of how teary eyed I got while walking away from Jr. High. Jr. High! Not Elementary... Jr. High! sob).

So today she went back to school and I can get back to work. I have a stack of Medusa mail and tasks that have been waiting for two weeks as well as a desk so disorganized I doubt I could find any of those tasks to begin with. My hands still hurt, so I'll have to pace myself (a quick thank you to Maggie for her advice about managing Repetitive Stress Disorder). It will take me a few days to get back in the zone of managing Medusa's Muse, editing the Business Book and the Punk Book, and bugging Tama again for a draft of her novel. Plus there's more Marketing for "Traveling Blind" as well as a couple of invoices to follow up on. Also the website needs updating. And if my Muse decides to get out of bed any time this week, I have a play to finish writing.

I have two weeks before I start Graduate School, time I'd better use getting my files in order, my desk cleared, my to-do list whittled down and my schedule organized.

Ooh, one bit of dorky, exciting news: "Traveling Blind; Life Lessons from Unlikely Teachers" has been teamed up with "Crashing Through: The Extraordinary True Story of the Man Who Dared to See" by Robert Kurson in an's Better Together package. For some reason this makes me super happy (proof that I'm a dork!).

Enough blogging for now. Time to get working.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Emergency! My Hands Hurt!

You'd think I wouldn't have any trouble with my hands right now since I've been on a hiatus from daily typing and Internet use (and I haven't even had time to play too many hours of The Sims). Instead, my fingers, right thumb, both wrists, right arm and both shoulders hurt so bad I'm popping tylenol while trying not to panic. I'm a writer, for heaven's sake! What am I supposed to do if I can't type? Or even hold a pen for thirty minutes?

There has been more than the normal amount of stress in my life right now, so I suspect some of the pain I feel, especially in my shoulders, is due to that. My husband had surgery, the dog had surgery, and Queen Teen had surgery, all within a week of each other, so I've been a nursemaid to all three since August 1. At the same time, I was putting the finishing touches on The Business Book I've been writing, getting it ready for feedback from experts. So it's not completely inconceivable that I would have some pain in my arms and hands right now.

I bought a new keyboard yesterday, a Microsoft "Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000." The key pad is split and raised in the middle to create a more "natural" curve for the hands. Typing feels really weird, but if it will save my hands, I'll give it a shot. I'll probably have to stop writing for long periods on my I-book at the cafe. But that's the weirdest part. I HAVEN'T been writing at the cafe, or anywhere, for long periods in a month. So why am I having trouble now, and what will that mean when my daughter goes back to school next week and I can once again write?

If anyone reading this has experienced something similar and has ideas about what to do, please send me a comment. I could use the advice.

Friday, August 15, 2008

"She's 13"

I managed to write an original post at my other blog, Gravity Check, about the meaning of "She's 13." If you'd like a glimpse of what I do when I'm not running Medusa's Muse, check out the post.

One More Week Until School Starts! Yeehaw!

Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks

It's still Summer break and I'm still juggling Mommy time and Work time, so my posts will be infrequent for at least another week. This morning Jane, my friend and the Medusa's Muse copy-editor, sent me a link to a hysterical blog, called The Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks. If you're anything close to a word nerd like me, you'll love these posts.

So instead of getting any actual work done, I've been reading about the ridiculous use of Quotation Marks. Yep, a good use of my time! Maybe not... but at least it was fun.

Okay, back to work. My daughter and I are working on her scrap-book today.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Update on Amazon vs. Booklocker Anti-Trust Lawsuit

Here is the latest on the anti-trust lawsuit against

From Publisher's Weekly:

The legal skirmishing between and Amazon in Booklocker’s antitrust lawsuit filed against the giant e-tailer got a bit heated last month as Amazon filed a motion to dismiss the case and Booklocker filed its response to keep the lawsuit alive. The case stems from Amazon’s decision to make print-on-demand publishers use its BookSurge subsidiary to manufacture POD titles if they want to sell their titles on Amazon directly (publishers that don’t use BookSurge will have their buy button removed). In May, Booklocker filed suit, charging that Amazon’s action was in violation of antitrust laws.

In its motion to dismiss, Amazon says that Booklocker is unhappy because it wants to use Amazon’s services “but doesn’t want to agree to the purchase terms announced by Amazon.” The company further argues that “there is no federal antitrust claim here. It has been well established for nearly a century that a retailer such as Amazon is free to decide unilaterally which suppliers’ products it will purchase, stock or resell, and the terms on which it will do so.” Amazon contends that its changes to its POD policy are aimed at improving the efficiency of its supply chain as part of its vertically integrated business, and that “antitrust laws simply do not prevent from making unilateral changes to its supply chain.”

Go to the article at Publisher's Weekly to read Booklocker's response. Very interesting.

The judge is supposed to make a ruling on Amazon's request to dismiss the lawsuit after Labor Day.