Congrats to H James Dallas

9781119102205_front.pdfHappy client news: H James Dallas’ book has had some noteworthy recognition. An Inc writer included it in a 2016 Top 10 list, and it was a Silver Medalist for the 2016 Georgia Author of the Year Award in the Inspirational/Secular Category. I think it’s already in its second or third printing.

James and I worked together in early 2015. It was my first project after Mia’s birth, and he was a dream client in accommodating my “life-with-a-newborn” schedule. A wonderful experience, a great guy, and a great speaker, if you ever have the chance to hear him.

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Project Spotlight: The CMO’s Social Media Handbook

Hi folks! My client Peter Friedman’s The CMO’s Social Media Handbook went on sale last fall. Peter is the founder and CEO of LiveWorld, a social content marketing company that works with global brands. His book is a crash course for executives facing the huge-but-not-insurmountable challenges of taking global companies social.Hi-Res Cover CMO SM Handbook Peter is unique in that he’s been doing social since before most people knew it existed. He was the vice president of Apple’s Internet Services Division in the early ’90s, and as he writes in the book:

Our team grew Apple’s worldwide online community (or social network in today’s terms) to 50,000 dealers, user group leaders, institutional customers, and employees; helped give birth to Salon, and created Apple’s eWorld, a clean, well-lit online community space whose strong user culture was stewarded by a team of moderators.

I served as Peter’s developmental editor, project manager, and art director. The full team included a designer, an illustrator, a copy editor, and a proofer. And of course, Peter himself.

Andrew Hahn at Circa42 was responsible for the book’s friendly yet authoritative cover and interior design. Jonathan Brown created a striking visual anchor for each chapter: New Yorker-style cartoons illustrating Peter’s witty take on the challenges of leading social marketing. For example:

LiveWorld 2014

Copyright LiveWorld 2014

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Never Eat Alone Revised Edition Published

nevereatalonerevisedWorking with Tahl and Keith on this update was one of my favorite projects last year, and now it’s out in the world! I’m really proud of the work. Never Eat Alone has always been a great book, and now it has a lot more to say about social media than “try Plaxo.” (Plaxo was the most advanced tool out there at the time of the book’s original publication a decade ago!)

Worth noting: It is thanks to Keith Edward Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz that I have the career helping authors and publishers write business books that I have today.

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SXSW 2014 Ends with a Very Late Night

magnolia cafeI had a great time, met great people, and learned a ton at this year’s SXSW in Austin. I’m glad I didn’t go to bed early as planned Sunday night, my last at the conference, and instead went the distance – a tour that ended at my old college haunt, the Magnolia Cafe.

This year I covered the event for my client LiveWorld – the post with my three days of recaps is here.

A couple excerpts, with my overall take:

My take on the theme of SXSW 2014:The blurring of digital and IRL in culture and commerce. Last year I left consumed with thoughts about 3-D printing and the Maker Movement. Also, Big Data. This year it’s been all about wearables and digital as a daily companion, not an alternative to IRL. It’s one giant leap beyond the mobile revolution, and no one’s quite sure yet what to make of it. How will brands use it to talk to customers and what those customers want from it? All we seem to know for sure is that it’s coming. Our Bluetooths are on and they’re broadcasting.

And how I became a Twitter addict:

Panels aside, IRL and digital blurred for me personally more at this SXSW than ever before. I stepped up my tweeting during sessions and used it to converse with people in the room, moving fluidly between digital and physical. In short: It was awesome! It was a great feeling to learn, connect, and discuss, all at the same time. I left feeling more convinced that social media and digital touchpoints IRL can enhance the experience of the real, rather than just distract from it. I’m not ready to be a Glasshole yet, but I’m definitely ready to be friends.

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Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling

My client Becky Blalock, the author of DARE, is blogging at now, in the run-up to her October launch! Check out her post, Five Ways to Break Through the Glass Ceiling.






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mediumI’ve been having a ball publishing on Medium, the beautiful new platform/environment for long-form writing and literary nonfiction. Well, let me let founder Ev Williams describe it in his own words:

Medium is a new place on the Internet where people share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters and not just for friends. It’s designed for little stories that make your day better and manifestos that change the world. It’s used by everyone from professional journalists to amateur cooks. It’s simple, beautiful, collaborative, and it helps you find the right audience for whatever you have to say.

So far I’ve published three pieces there:

I Got Botox
The wonder drug from which you should run, screaming.

The Nonconformist’s Bridal Diet
Why I’m working out like a maniac before the big “I do.”

The Legendary Lower East Side Rat Killer
A rat in my kitchen spurs a community to action.

And here’s one I didn’t write but enjoyed reading: Why Go Out? by Sheila Heti.

Take a look!


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Why Write Your Life?

Great article about curating your life in the NY Times, very relevant to my “other” business, Grace Memoirs. A short excerpt:

Dan Schuette, a 70-year-old retiree who lives in Sun Prairie, Wis., said he was surprised and inspired while writing 15 autobiographical stories he published in a book for his family. “I realized that I’ve had a pretty good life,” he said. “It also made me focus on what I still want to do. I visit the graves of my father and my 12-day-old grandson who died and have conversations with them. I realized that if I want my kids and grandkids to come see me at my grave, maybe I should be a larger part of their life, maybe I should get in my car and see them when it isn’t so convenient for me, or make another call.”

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Lean in, Ya’ll

Becky Blalock, author of the forthcoming book Dare

All that’s left to do now on the women’s leadership book I’ve been editing is cleanup. No more heavy lifting, and we’re going to hit tomorrow’s deadline for the publisher. (And then I’ll have one more round of notes…)

I like to think of the book as Lean In for the South, although of course its appeal isn’t limited to that region. The Atlanta, Georgia-based author retired recently as CIO of a major utility firm, and she interviewed 50 C-suite women all over the country who are super impressive, if less storied, than the high-profile ladies of Palo Alto. She is lovely and amazing, and I’m so excited for her!

It has been so interesting to hear what it was like to work in a technically-oriented company in the ’70s and ’80s – not just as a woman, but in a world where the nascent Internet was still barred from commercial use. She mentions that all the women wore bow-tied shirts with square-toed shoes, trying to blend in with their male coworkers. I immediately started smelling the next Mad Men.

When she won her first senior executive role, she was one of two women in the company of 20,000 who had arrived in the C-suite. The numbers today are barely better.

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Panels I Attended at SXSW

It’s my last day here at SXSW! Here’s a quick report on what I saw panel-wise and what I thought. Caveat: I’m so tired that I’m not going to even proofread it.

Democratization of Publishing: Survive and Thrive
SXSW Program Description: The publishing industry is evolving as authors, indie app and game creators and musicians are empowered to self-publish and distribute real time, on demand content to millions of potential customers. There are more opportunities than ever to get content in front of the right audiences. Hear from industry leaders on what the future might hold and tips for getting the right eyeballs on your content. With Guy Kawasaki, John Densmore (The Doors), an app publisher, Libby Johnson Mckee (the North American Director of Kindle,) and fiction author Steven Carpenter.  

This was a “beginner” panel and therefore I didn’t take away much that was new to me. Mckee from Kindle was asked the inevitable question about whether Amazon was taking over the world and basically said, “We’re here to make our authors and our readers happy and we’re all [in the industry] trying to figure out how to do that”….(and if we become a giant monopoly in the process of good who are we to fight it…) She also mentioned that she published her daughter’s book of poetry through Createspace, to give her daughter the sheer joy of seeing it up on Amazon. (That didn’t sit that well with me, but I have to think about it.)

The theme here that did take my mind in some new and exciting directions was co-creation: bringing the audience into the development and editorial process. It’s not a new idea – Tim Sanders is a huge advocate, having developed his most recent book with heavy interaction with his FB page – but with all the turn-it-around-on-a-dime book doctoring I’ve been doing, it’s kind of remote from my recent process.

Guy explained the editorial process for APE, the self-published book on self-publishing he’s just released. He took in feedback from his community at the outline stage, feedback before copyediting, and then feedback after copyediting. All done through Google docs. He said his takeaway was that he should have done the pre-copyediting circulation in waves. He had 60 people give notes and if he had sent it out 6 times, each with new revisions, he would have gotten further.

I think there’s wisdom in crowds that should be engaged and respected, and the idea of bringing this kind of dynamism to the process of books (and hopefully also to the reading of books) is both inevitable and exciting. But my takeaway (as an editor) is that that process requires you to have an even stronger editor – someone who can listen, analyze and process data flowing in, but not get completely caught and turned upside down in the whitewater.

For self-publishing authors, the most likely viable route to “thriving” as a self-publisher is to build the tribe as you build the book, making them part of your process. Most of me thinks that this will lead to better books and more satisfaction for authors (though they may fight it at first). But there’s a sliver of me that appreciates the concept of a book that comes from the strange visions of one crazy mind and is unique and wonderful because of it.

Social Media in North Korea
A look at social and technology access behind the DMZ by Jean Lee, AP’s Bureau chief there. Along with Johns Seely Brown and marine life, NK is one of my current top fascinations so I was very excited for this panel.  The AP is the only news agency to operate a full-time bureau there.

Surprise!: North Koreans don’t have much access. Cell phones are becoming popular, even among people who don’t have a ton of money, and even though they’re expensive. They have access to an intranet that’s used to broadcast state media and has some social functions—for example, she showed us a bulletin board where locals can post birthday songs for friends.

Other insights/facts that stuck with me:

•    Growing upper/middle class that travels outside of the country and brings in hard currency
•    Some burgeoning (but limited) entrepreneurialism thanks to that capital inflow
•    Lee thinks that NKoreans are truly one with their governments propaganda. Add to that the cultural conformity of Koreans in general, and she doesn’t expect to see countercultural/revolutionary movements emerge
•    Foreign journalists are completely sequestered by the government (Duh.) She can’t email them, has to stay in the foreign corridor of Pyongyang and can’t mingle unless she has her state-appointed minder with her.  So I’m not sure what to think about whether she can have much insight into what’s “really” going on.

Overall, great panel, although it only barely lifted back the veil on things I’d like to know about life in NK.

Storytelling: The Next Wave of Engagement

SX description: Most of today’s content strategies involve publishing hundred of bits of content per month across social networks, without any cohesive story or narrative behind the content. These random pieces of information tell a story to your fans and customers, whether intended or not. Are you telling the right brand story?

I went to this one both out of rabid interest (in transmedia storytelling specifically more than social generally) and because I’ve been doing some work with the CEO of the company whose Director of Social Strategy Mark Williamson was presenting (Liveworld).

Mark had the most advanced presentation skills of any panel I went to – not so much the slides, but his relaxed-yet-dynamic delivery and the near-seamless skype integration of a second presenter who had travel issues – it was almost like she was there.


-Storytelling in social needs to have arcs, but also be serial, so that people can jump in and out –  this was a tactical insight that really resonated with me, although I think I do this naturally on social.

Social Samba – platform to create “choose your own adventure”-like stories, for example for Norton Security. Originally the platform was inspired by the desire to be able to “Friend” James Bond and other favorite characters for a glimpse into their lives, to make your newsfeed more fun.

@PeggyOlson – the second presenter tweets as PeggOlson, originally of her own volition but now in partnership with the show creators. She gave an interesting look at how Mad Men has welcomed and supported fan-created content.

Space Out: Sketch Out Your Ride for the Next Century
SX description: Extraterrestrial travel is within our (civilian) grasp and it’s time for designers, dreamers, and wannabe astronauts to come together to imagine the future. Using pen and paper, we’ll sketch our ultimate personal spaceship while honing our ability to quickly illustrate ideas as physical objects and interfaces. Sketching is a great way to quickly express ideas, iterate and share with others.

I was surrounded by UI/UX/designers and self-identified “makers” and loved it.

“Makers” – many people were present who identified themselves as makers. I had only become conscious of this term a few months ago, when I read a NY Times article about 3D printing. It feels very William Gibson to me, this idea that there’s a countercultural or at least “alternative” niche community of people who identify themselves as unique because their passion is making real objects in the physical world. Real=counterculture, virtual=norm.

Most fascinating was to see how different brains approached the direction to “sketch your spaceship” differently. Many engineer-type brains in the crowd. Me, I approached it as though physics didn’t exist and my one task was really psychological: to make a confined space feel spacious for the interstellar traveler.

Beyond the Hype: The Data of SXSW
I had met Etai from Digitas, the presenter of this session, at the Mashable party, and was excited to see his near real-time crunching of everything everyone had been tweeting about, attending, and talking about at SXSW.

-    Because this kind of data is so granular, location, and time-bound, you can’t use it for anything predictive
-    panels picked 7 months ago maintained their hype-level at the conference
-    Elon Musk and Grumpy cat were the most tweeted personalities/subjects
-    Not that many people actually saw Grumpy cat or cared
-    Space, Stories, and Makers were the big themes of this year’s conference
-    Lyft (with the big pink mustache reps) made waves
-    People loved GM’s Brilliant Brew coffee frothe designs
-    I missed a shit-ton of cool stuff
-    Our speculation all week that Interactive had eclipsed music and film was correct: 27K+ people attended the interactive this year. 2012 SXSW had almost 19K for music, almost 16.5 for film, and almost 25K for interactive

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Crossover Book Deals – Indie to Mainstream

This immediately caught my eye in my feed, from the blog of indie sci-fi and mystery novelist Dean Wesley Smith. Like Smith I’ve been suggesting this approach will become more and more common:

This morning Publishers Marketplace gave out their information about six figure deals in publishing that were reported to them. Combining nonfiction, children’s, and fiction, there were about 300 six figure deals reported to Publisher’s Marketplace. (There were a ton more, of course, since most deals are not reported.)

Then Publisher’s Marketplace followed with the line:

“As everyone knows, originally self-published books made for a number of high-profile crossover deals in 2012–though in total numbers, we recorded 45 such deals in all.”

Of the 300 or so six figure deals that were reported to them in 2012, 45 were from books that started off self-published.

Indie publishing is now a clear route in.

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