Tag Archives: Business

Launching your book: Could you benefit from a beta audience?

In the past I have talked about beta readers as a way to test my book. Today I came across an article about an author who is publishing his book to a beta audience of 1,000 people before he even makes his work available to the public. While this size sample audience is likely too large for most self-published authors, it does raise an interesting idea.

By releasing a book to a smaller audience, there is an opportunity to build a buzz and a collection of ready-reviews before your book is available for purchase. Admittedly, I am more likely to buy a book with at least some reviews (even mediocre) than one with none at all. Likewise, it provides more opportunity for refinement as readers provide input before the book hits Amazon.

Now, I know many authors question the validity of seeking so many different opinions, but perhaps this method of a larger beta audience (be it 1,000 or 100 or 10) provides the opportunity for a consensus to form. While the opinion of one may not be extremely useful, the overlapped opinions of many start to hold more value, particularly if the audience is picked intentionally. In the article, the author seeks readers in his academic community, not just any old volunteer.

I am curious of your thoughts– do you see advantages to a larger beta audience? Is there some secret to successful marketing in this approach?

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Start Something That Matters

I will put it out there. I love TOMS shoes. I have two pairs, I bought Alex a pair for Christmas, (he just doesn’t know which pair…), and I will continue to buy these shoes into the future. They are comfortable, versatile, stylish, and matter. The company has created a brand loyalty for me that is unmatched by anything else I own.

Maybe it's the good karma, maybe it's because they're cute, but days I wear my TOMS are good days.

Maybe it’s the good karma, maybe it’s because they’re cute, but days I wear my TOMS are good days.

For those of you who don’t know, TOMS gives a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased. I have heard some criticism in the world of philanthropy that TOMS is not teaching anyone to fish, that it’s just giving out shoes as a capitalistic ploy to sell more overpriced shoes, that if people really cared they should just give the money directly to a cause instead of buying themselves a pair of shoes in the process.

I say, so what? If I am going to pay $40+ for a pair of shoes, I would rather a kid with bare feet receive a pair too. I’m going to spend the $40 either way. Shoes are something I prefer to buy new. It’s about time the fashion world be revolutionized. TOMS does this while also telling a story, a story about a guy who went to Argentina and returned with a dream to put shoes on the feet of needy kids. More than a million kids now have a pair of shoes because of his dream.

With Alex’s Christmas present came a bonus, Blake Mycoskie’s book about his entrepreneurial journey to found TOMS, Start Something That Matters. Easy to read, humorous, and inspiring, I recommend the book. I’d say buy it, but even better, buy a pair of TOMS online and get it for free this month, as well as a pair of shoes for a kid somewhere. I love success stories that combine entrepreneurism, passion, and a good cause.

A great read.

A great read.

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Dream Big or Go Home

Every fall, the organization I work for holds a region-wide professional development day. With roots in Silicon Valley and tech start-ups, my charter school group is forward thinking, technology-driven, and business minded. Last year’s theme was the importance of reframing failure as a welcomed opportunity for improvement.

This year, the theme was BHAGs, Big Hairy Audacious Goals. The idea, you have to dream bigger than you can imagine in order to succeed beyond your wildest dreams. You have to think decades, not just years. Then, you have to create an actionable plan to bring these goals to fruition. The more seemingly outlandish, the better.

While I applaud my charter organization for having BHAGs, I decided I needed to also have my own big hairy audacious goals. Usually, I think just one year at a time, maybe five at the most, stretching for what is within reach. Instead, this evening, I pushed myself to imagine the kind of over-the-top success I usually only let linger in my brain for a few minutes before settling on smaller, more seemingly attainable goals.

So, here you go. My BHAGs.

1. Be an internationally published author with readers around the world. I am currently living vicariously through Eowyn Ivey, author of the Snow Child, on her trip around the world to market her book and visit her foreign publishers. To achieve this BHAG, I need to write, write, write, and write some more.

2. At first I wanted to have a blog following of 1,000, but that seemed minuscule in the shadow of a big hairy audacious goal. Instead, I want to establish a following of 10,000. Why not? The more readers of my blog, the more potential readers of my books, and the more likely I can sustain myself as a writer. 10,000 definitely feels big and hairy. Again, I need to write, write, write, and put myself out there.

3. Live or have a vacation property overlooking the ocean. It’s easy to say you want wealth or any number of things that come with it, but I think specificity is important to achieving goals. I want to wake up to the ocean, write with the sound of the waves, do yoga on the beach until I’m a little old lady who can’t do yoga anymore, (aka dead). Again, sounds like I need to write, write, write, because teaching certainly isn’t going to buy that dream.

To write by the sea is the life for me.

My dream.

As writers, I think we’re often discouraged from dreaming big because most of us will never get there. However, as long as your happiness doesn’t depend solely on whether or not you achieve your goals, I disagree with all the disillusioned souls who say it’s too hard, too unlikely. As long as someone out there is doing it, it’s possible. Might as well be me, or you, or better yet, both of us.

Reminds me of my beloved Marianne Williamson quote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

So shine on and be free with me.

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Entrepreneur Love

Alright, I know that I’ve shared these fabulous entrepreneurs on Facebook, but I am all about giving love to the entrepreneurs in my life.  Growing up the daughter of one of the world’s great entrepreneurs, (as well as the sister to a girl that once sold rocks in our front yard and will likely be another great), I have always deeply admired people that take risks to create financial independence.

Heck, I have even tried unsuccessfully myself, (wedding videography/documentary maker anyone?!), so I definitely know the spirit when I see it and strive to continue chasing it through my writing.  Soon enough, I will also be married to an entrepreneur again, as Alex is imminently headed back to real estate.  Which reminds me, does anyone want to buy or sell a house?  Oh, wait, that’s a different post!

Back to the point, it seems like I am surrounded by inspiring entrepreneurs.  Here are a few recent inspirations in my life, thank you ladies for reminding me to be brave and take risks!

1.  Shaka Soaps

My husband’s cousin recently launched her own home business making all-natural soaps and spa products in Hawaii.  Not only are the ingredients wonderful, but the products are stylish.  Jessica followed her heart to take the risk to move her family to Hawaii and has not looked back.  I admire the guts!  Her home business is experiencing great success, including the use of her products by celebrities.  Doesn’t get much better than that!

 Check out Jess’ awesome products at:  http://www.shaka-soap.com/

2.  Tanya Leigh

My dear friend Tanya is blessed with the courage to pursue her creative endeavors.  She has sold gorgeous wedding veils, fabulous dresses, and handsome silk neck ties.  As a design major at UC Davis, she kept us all on our toes in her various fashion shows, (excuse the rhyming!).  Currently, she blogs for Style Bistro and does amazing freelance fashion illustrations.  I truly cannot wait to see what she does next!

 Check out Tanya’s creativity:  http://drawntostyle.blogspot.com/ 
3.  Botany Factory
Apparently UC Davis is just a hotbed of creativity, because another lovely friend from college, Katie, is a designer for Old Navy as well as the owner of Botany Factory, a quirky cute company that creates terrariums and offers occasional terrarium-making classes set to live Blue Grass music in the Mission in SF.  Katie has also received press attention for her terrariums, and I cannot wait to buy one!
Check out Botany Factory and adorable Katie:  http://www.botanyfactory.com/index.html 
4.  Flock & Farm
Staying at my aunt Colleen’s house was always the biggest treat when I was growing up.  She has been an entrepreneur longer than I have been alive, and her house was always abuzz with her pursuits.  Whether I was pouring through the blue prints for her contracting jobs or chasing around baby chicks for her pet store, I was always in kid heaven.  The best of course, was when she had baby sheep that I could bottle feed and cuddle.  I can still remember the wooly softness of a baby sheep hug!  Now, Colleen turns the wool from her sheep into gorgeous blankets for her business Flock & Farm.  With baby sheep season upon us, I think I may have to go visit sometime soon!

Check out Flock & Farm:  http://flockfarm.com/
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