Monday, June 20, 2011
An amazing number of people just drift through life, dragging themselves through each day with little energy, joy or excitement. And, needless to say, that's not the way to live. You should get as much joy out of life as possible. You should live it to to the fullest, and there are a lot of things you can do to achieve this. I discuss many of them in my book.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
1. Start your morning off with 20 minutes of exercise. Exercise is good for everyone; it helps get your blood flowing and it works out some of the stiffness you developed overnight. Pilates exercises are particularly good (in them you lie on your back and move your arms and legs). Walking is also great, particularly if you have a tread mill.
2. Affirmations and pep talks can set the stage for a great day. Affirmations are words or phrases you repeat to yourself throughout the day. Something simple like, "I'm going to be happy all day." Of course you have to make sure you are saying it with conviction and believe it.
3. Look into the mirror while you are washing and smile, and when I say "smile", I mean really smile. Remember that if you act happy, you will be happy.
4. Count your blessings. Too many people fail to do this, but you should do it every day. Think about all the good things that have happened to you lately, and the good luck that has come your way (admit it now, there has to be some). Think about your health (assuming it is good), your family, the freedoms you experience, your financial security (assuming you have it). And always remember even if you don't have some of these things, you could be a lot worse off.
5. Don't think about what you don't have; think about what you do have. Some people spend most of their time wishing they had more. They're sure they need a new car, a new house, and all the new electonic gadgets. Sure, they would be nice, but appreciate what you have, and be thankful for it.
6. Fix yourself up each morning. Shave, put on your makeup and so on. If you look good, you feel good. And don't worry if you're having a bad hair day.
7. Do whatever you can to build up your self-confidence. You need to be self-confident if you are to feel your best. So concentrate on your strengths and forget about any failures you may have had. Think about your positive features.
8. This leads us to those ugly "negative thoughts" that are always cropping up. Don't let them squeeze their way into your mind. Fight them the moment they appear, and the best way to do this is substitute a positive thought for them. Have some positive thoughts ready at all times. Negative thoughts can do a lot of damage.
9. Ah ...Relaxation. Yes, relax and stay relaxed. Nothing makes you feel better than being completely relaxed. This means getting rid of all tensions. Tension tends to accumulate in the shoulders, neck and jaw. Shake them up, twist them around until you get rid of it. Meditation is also very helpful, and music can also help a lot. Just sit back and let it flow over you.
10. Negative thoughts and tension always lead to worry, and worry is something you definitely don't need. Crowd it out of your mind as soon as it enters.
11. It's also important to begin your day by eating a hearty breakfast. People sometimes think they lose weight if they skip breakfast, but this rarely happens. You need an energy boost to get you going first thing in the morning. Many people do not like oatmeal, but it's a good way to get you going in the morning, and besides -- it will lower your cholesterol. Anyway, eat what you would like as long as it is nutritious.
12. Every morning you should resolve to "live for today." Enjoy the upcoming day, and live it to its fullest. Don't worry about mistakes and problems that occurred in the past, or the uncertain future. Sure, you should have goals for the future -- they're important -- but don't worry about the future -- look forward to it.
13. Savor life's joys. In other words: take time to enjoy the little things. Enjoy the sunrise in the morning, breath the fresh air, and as the old saying goes "stop to smell the roses."
14. And of particular importance: Resolve to do no complaining, no blaming, no thoughts of revenge, no fighting, no bad feelings against anybody, and don't criticize anyone throughout the day.
15. Remember that friends help you feel good. Interact with as many as possible during the day. Talk to them. Laugh with them. Compliment them.
16. Don't think "I'll be happy when ..." This could be completed with: When I graduate, when I get married, when I retire, and so on. You can't put happiness off; you have to be happy now.
17. Accept the fact that happiness is up to you, and only you can make it happen. This means you have to work at it. So resolve to work at it.
18. Do what you enjoy. I enjoy writing and am (almost) always happy when I'm writing, even if I'm not saying very much that is important. If you love painting -- do it. If you love playing a musical instrument -- do it. It will make you feel better.
19. Buying a lottery ticket that is a long shot (in other words, it pays millions) is usually a waste of money, and I don't normally recommend it. But I always remember the fun I had when I bought one, thinking about what I would do with all the money if I won. Of course, I didn't really expect to win, but it was fun thinking about it. Try to imagine the euphoria you would have if you did win, and savor it.
20. And last but not least, make up a list such as the one above and pin it on the wall where you can see it every day. It doesn't have to include everything on my list, but whatever it contains -- memorize it and use the things on it as affirmations.
No one can guarantee you'll be happy every day, but if you start out each morning with such a list and take it to heart you'll be happier than you would be otherwise.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Directing your book at "everyone" only works if you're a well-known writer or a celebrity, and this doesn't apply to many writers, and I'm assuming it doesn't apply to you. Your best bet, therefore, is to concentrate on a certain area, in other words: find a niche. Your niche will likely be something you're good at, and passionate about. Think about your qualifications and what you are really interested in as you decide on a niche. There are, of course, lots of possibilities. A list of a few is as follows:
Health and fitness
How to books
This is only a few of the numerous possibilities, and even for the above you will likely have to select a topic within it.
With a niche you have a ready-made audience; it may only be a small section of the overall population, but they're more likely to buy your book. Furthermore, as you write more and more about your specialty you'll become more and more of an expert, and people will look to you increasingly for the latest information on your topic.
So select a niche, sharpen your skills and go for it.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Publicity can come in many forms and most of it is expensive. Large newspapers and TV can, in fact, be very expensive, and its unlikely you would recoup your expenses in sales. The best way around this is to try to get free publicity, in other words, get a reporter to write up a news article about your book. You can do this by sending a copy of your book to some of the reporters at the paper. And if you get one interested, remember that when she interviews you that your job is to create "curiosity" about the book. Tell her things about it that will pique reader's curiosity. Make them want to buy the book.
And, as I said earlier, the more publicity, the better. Try to get publicity in all forms, and if one form doesn't seem to give results -- go on to something else. The important thing is that you keep trying. A sure way to sell "few" books is to give up after a "few" tries. Selling takes work, and it's no place for the weak-hearted. You have to keep at it. Always be thinking of new ways to get publicity.
The internet is, of course, one of the great new places to get publicity. Use social media such as Facebook and Myspace, and if your book is in any way newsworthy, send out a press release. In fact, send out several, but make sure they are, indeed, newsworthy. You want someone to take them seriously. And finally, one of the best ways to sell books is through a website; make sure you set one up and use it.
Finally, one last "secret" for selling more books and it is to give as many books away as possible. Yes, I'll admit, books are costly, and you may not want to do this, but it can bring big dividends, The important thing, however, is to give them to the right people. Anyway, good luck, and this is a topic I'll be talking about much more in this blog. Don't forget to visit my website BarryParkerbooks.com
Monday, May 5, 2008
The first thing you'll have to do is select a topic and a title. I live on a small farm with three goats, two horse, a mule and some chickens, so it was perhaps natural for me to write about them. I selected a small goat that we had named "Baby" as the main character, and decided to call the book "Baby's in the Doghouse." As it had turned out earlier, we had put a small doghouse in the goat pen so that Baby would have some protection from the other goats, as they tended to be rather mean to her.
So look around and see what you can come up with. Maybe you have a dog or a cat you could use. Or think back to when you were young. What type of book did you like? Needless to say there are a lot of possibilities.
Once you have a title and subject, you need a story, and you need to be sure that it will be of interest to a child. This brings up the question: what age group are you directing your book at? Is it for 3 to 6 year olds, or 9 to 14 years olds? It makes a big difference; the story line will be quite different depending on their age.
And regardless of age, the book will have to have some pictures in it. If it is for very young children, in fact, it will likely have to have a lot of pictures. But even older children like some pictures. Are you planning on drawing your own pictures, or will you have to hire an artist. If you're only so so as an artist I would suggest hiring somebody.
Getting back to the story, one of the best ways to decide on a good story is to read several other children's books. If you have a small child, you've no doubt read many stories to them, so this may not be a problem for you. Nevertheless, I'd look over a number of books. And of course, this is where your imagination and creativity come in. Almost everything you can think up has been written about numerous times. But don't despair. One way of overcoming this is to think of a new twist on an old story. Anyway, I'll leave this to you.
Once you've finished your story, the next step is to get it published, and for this you'll have to send out what is called a "query letter." In this letter you will describe you book, explain why children would love it, and describe your qualifications. Unfortumately, as with all books, if you are a new writer, it's not easy to get a publisher to accept your book, and after a dozen or so rejections almost anyone gets rather dejected. Fortunately there is an alternative: you can publish it yourself, and with todays technology this has become relatively easy. Of course, you'll also have to sell it yourself, but you'd be surprised how many you can sell with a little work. Anyway, I'll describe some of these things in later posts.
Check out my website at BarryParkerbooks.com
Sunday, May 4, 2008
One of the main reasons Asimov is my hero is that he was one of the most prolific writers of all time, and of course, he was also mainly a popular science writer, as I am. Over his lifetime he wrote over 300 books; in 1957, for example, he wrote a book every two months. I remember him mentioning that he had completed a book in ten days, and thought that he had better wait a while before sending it to his publisher because he was worried that they would think it was done too fast.
To be prolific he obviously had to be a very fast writer. What was his secret? For one thing, his first drafts were almost perfect (he no doubt perfected this by writing as much as he did); he said he only read what he had written through once and usually only made a few changes. It was then ready for the publsher. And according to his publishers his writing required little editing.
All of us would like to write faster, but I don't think many of us could match Asimov. Nevertheless we would like to improve our speed, but of course, writing fast can't be our only goal. You have to write accurately, clear, and better at the same time. If you write fast and nobody wants to read what you've written because it is so bad, you haven't achieved much.
One of the first things you will have to do to write faster is get better organized. A certain number of steps are needed in writing an article or a chapter in a book. You have to begin by doing some research, and it's not a good idea to try to skip this stage, It will soon become obvious that you don't know what you are talking about. You can use reference material (books and magazines) and the internet for research, but one of the things I've found to be very helpful is to copy out all the information you will need (at least the critical points). This helps plant it firmly in your mind. You may think this is slowing you down, but in the long run, it isn't.
Once you've finished your research, you have to get things organized. First, try to get them organized in your head. Think about what you have learned. Go through it in your mind several times. Then you're ready to organize it on paper; in other words, you're ready for an outline, and again, this is not a step you should skip. Do a good job, and it is best to do it in stages; start with a rough outline, then go back over it and fill in more topics. And when you're finished, go through it again, adding even more topics, until you're finally satisfied.
The last stage is writing it up, and you should be well-primed by now. You've thought everything over thoroughly and in the process of making up an outline you've got things organized in your mind. The next step, then, is to write, and for this, try to write the entire article without making any changes. Just let it flow out. The changes will come with the revisions.
I have a lot more to say about this process in my book "Your Book" which will be out in a couple of months. Visit my website at BarryParkerbooks.com to read more about it. I'll also have more to say about "writing fast, but accurately" in future posts.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
My New Book: "Your Book: Writing it With Style and Clarity, Publishing Beautiful Pages, Selling Thousands of Copies
I taught a writing class at ISU for several years and wrote a book (text) for use in the class. I never did get it publish and thought it was about time. But I know that today's writers want to learn a lot more than just writing, and many of them would like to self-publish their books. So I've added two sections to the book: one on publishing and one on selling the book.
I have 22 published books over the years and most of them were published by relatively large publishers, but like many writers I became interested in self-publishing a few years ago. I found it to be an interesting process, and like many self publishers I found the selling of the books is the biggest challenge. I discovered quickly that if you advertize a little and get your book on Amazon.com you sell a few books ... in other words, the orders "dribble" in. But what you really want is for them to come in a "flood." At least that would be nice. But for most people, the cost of the advertizing that it would take to sell thousands, is prohibitive. Luckily, there are now several channels beyond the usual newspaper, TV and radio ads, that are much less expensive. And as I'm sure you know, one of the best of them is the internet.
In my book I talk about my experiences in trying to sell books on my own, and what worked best for me. Maybe you can share some of your experiences, so I can pass them on.
A detailed overview of the contents of "Your Book" is posted on my webpage BarryParkerbooks.com. I hope you'll look at it. I'll talk more about the book in future posts. It should be out in a couple of months