Independent Book Authors and Blogger’s Dreams

As you know SplashPress and The Blog Herald are running the Independent Blogger Book Quest in which I’m reviewing a book published independently — without the backing of a major publisher. In keeping with our mission at the Blog Herald, the books will be about blogging, business, and the work of online professionals. Read this post for guidelines to submit your book for review.

The books are arriving and one book has already been reviewed. I’ll bring another with me next week. Meanwhile, I’ve also worked with two new authors — helping one get his concept in line with his purpose, and and another getting permission to connect her with a small publisher.

The folks in question had a sense of how a book is made and what to expect from their investment. If you want to be a book author, you should know what they do.

Perception versus Reality

It seems everywhere we look another blogger is becoming an author. In the world of the Internet, this literate population of authors here are soon to be the norm that car drivers are in the 3-D world. Or at least, that is a large enough aspiration to give that perception. People want to write a book because they believe
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Blogger Book Quest: GUST

Because not all books are created equal. We present a book by a blogger on the subject of blogging, writing, or business that is self-published or published by a small, independent publisher.

Gust Cover

Title: GUST: The “Tale” Wind of Office Politics
Blogger/Author: Timothy L. Johnson
URL: Carpe Factum: Products
Get this Book: Gust Product Info at Amazon

Before I read the business fable, GUST, I knew that office politics existed. I had determined I couldn’t avoid or resist being part of the “body politic.” What I didn’t have was a clue about how it worked, nor had I really tried to make sense of it.

This book did both for me. Inside this book, you’ll find

  • Three key things people manipulate and fight over in organizations — Resouces, People, and Information
  • Three kinds of politicians, and how to handle each one
  • Six core motivations of political behavior
  • Uses (and misuses) of influence in an organization
  • Hows and whys of strategizing an appropriate response to a political situation
  • Considerations of timing, passion, and support into your political actions
  • Executives’ roles in influencing (and correcting) office politics
  • Assessments for determining how political your organization really is.

At times the story bends to fit the content. It needs to — no company is quite that dysfunctional all at once – AND that’s what gives this volume a place in my top drawer. Every office politician I’ve ever met is in it and Tim Johnson offers a way to handle each individual . . . um er . . . colleague’s needs with finesse. GUST is worth picking up. just for that.

Read this post for guidelines to submit your book for review.

SplashPress and The Blog Herald Announce the Independent Blogger Book Quest

UPDATE: Please forgive my misuse of the term “Indie Bloggers.” I was caught in book world thinking, using the short form for Indepemdent . . . Please accept my corrections. Independent Blog Book Authors from India and all over the world are welcome to participate.

It’s no secret that I’m from publishing or that I have a feeling for writing and books. I don’t hide the fact that I spent my early career, teaching kids how to get meaning by decoding words in type. Books combine so much I care about teaching, learning, thinking, communicating ideas. The best ones have photos, illustrations, maps, and diagrams too.

It’s enough to make me swoon. When you’re stuck somewhere, a good book can take you anywhere.

And so, with great enthusiasm and, in celebration of the book, Blogging Tips That Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging by Lorelle VanFossen, I’m pleased to announce the SplashPress IndieIndependent Blogger Book Quest here at the Blog Herald.

Because Not All Books Are Created Equal

We all know that not all books are created equal. Some have big-name authors. Some have big-name publishers. Some have big-dollar marketing plans. Other books are written after work, after dark, after the kids are put to bed. Those last books are slightly harder to bring to market. They often have a harder time reaching their audience.

So many of them are great books. A great book without an audience still doesn’t get read. That’s worse than sad. [Read more…]

The Internet’s Not Finished, But Flying Cars Are Unlikely

I used to work for a company in Chicago You can find it about a mile and a half west of here. If I drove, I turned right out of my garage to go the stop sign at the corner. Another right turn took me to the next corner. Where, guess what? I went right again. At the corner at the end of that block, my drive would get exciting. Not only did I encounter a T-intersection with a stoplight, but I got to make another right and then a quick left onto a residential street.

The next 12 city blocks or so were directly toward my destination, but I had to come to a full stop for a stop sign every two blocks. At last, I would arrive at the final right turn, go one block and start search for parking place. Rock star parking was available if I got there before 7:30 a.m.

When I visit that company on the Internet, I click a link.

At that company, I worked in educational publishing. Among othr things, we revised a 60-year-old writing program with too many revisions to return it to its original passion and purpose.

Two weeks ago in a D.C. meeting, a friend shared this story with me. On an international journey, my friend found himself next to someone from another educational publishing company. The two talked about the future. The man said his corporation believes that in 7 years they will be done with textbooks. Selling traditional textbooks to US and UK schools will be history.

I’ve had three students email me for permission to quote one of my blogs in a paper school. . . .

The information on my blog wasn’t in their textbooks. [Read more…]

The Two Webs: Information or Relationships?

About a month ago, I was in a group, planning a panel discussion for an upcoming conference. It had been suggested that people be invited to question whether business bloggers share personal information on their business blogs. Information blogging versus relationship blogging was at the heart of the question.

I imagined the panel and the audience in the conference room. I thought, “It’s not often that people get to see subjects — other than politics and religion — that would be equally as dividing.” Very soon after the planning discussion, I caught myself picturing the panel. I was filled with knowing that circles for the sides of the panel placed in a Venn diagram would hardly touch. It was hard to foresee that folks would be persuaded to be any closer in outlook.

Two very different world views — one informational, one relational. Each point of view defines the experience differently. Static or dynamic, take your pick.

This elephant is standing on the web. [Read more…]

Authenticity as a Real Life Skill for Changing the World

My friend, Peg, — a nonblogger — says that blogging is the best form of self-improvement. I agree. Blogging stretches us, as we communicate real information in real time with real feeling. The blogging culture demands authenticity and transparency, How could that not untangle personal issues that we might have been carrying?

Authenticity and transparency by definition require self-awareness and a loss of false modesty. Those two conditions underpin communication undermine our comfortable notions about who we are. The old ways we saw ourselves and the old words we used to describe us no longer work quite so well. They’re too misleading, self-deprecating, or just not really who we are.

Once we get the hang of it, authenticity and transparency free us to be honest without self-consciousness. The old fear of boastfulness or self-promotion is gone, because we are self-expressed. Learning to communicate in a blogging culture of such values could make any blogger a better person. It’s done that for me.

Learning to communicate authentically is a critical life skill. Authenticity and transparency build relationships. Relationships are the currency of success in society. Relationships are everyone’s business and every business is relationships.

The magic about this is folks are taking what bloggers have learned back into the real world. See this point from a list that Penelope Trunk developed for Guy Kawasaki. It’s from a list on workplace myths and the truths that debunk them.

There is no magic formula to having a great career except to be you. Really you. Know who you are and have the humility to understand that self-knowledge is a never-ending journey. Figure out how to do what you love, and you’ll be great at it. Offer your true, good-natured self to other people and you’ll have a great network. Those who stand out as leaders have a notable authenticity that enables them to make genuinely meaningful connections with a wide range of people. Authenticity is a tool for changing the world by doing good.

Then move on to the wisdom of less is more offered by Steve Roesler.

If we’re going to consider authenticity as a success factor, then we need to acknowledge:
1. What we think we should be — but we are not.
2. What someone else told us we should be — but we are not.
3. What we think others want to hear that we are — but we are not.
4. What we think we can become — but we know we cannot.

Blogging leads us to know who we are. It must, if we become authentic. Authenticity by it’s very nature is about humility and acceptance of our transparent selves.

This is world-changing action taking place from the inside out of each individual. If I want to change the world, what better place to start than in my mirror?

Liz Strauss writes and talks about changing the world at Successful-Blog.

Authenticity and Transparency in the Same Room

I had the most thrilling and inspiring experience this weekend. I spent my time with over 100 authentic and transparent bloggers — people — talking about what they believe and care about. One rule was the only order of the day – be nice. Talk to each other like people, like friends from whom we might learn, and learn we did.

I kept hearing echoes of The Cluetrain Manifesto.

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.

The people in that room had great brains attached to their hearts. They spoke about their passions. They asked and answered questions. They participated. They conversed.

Oddly enough, I didn’t hear a negative word said. Negatives weren’t needed. Somehow, we knew that negatives require defending, but positives move things forward.

It was sharing.

People can make such progress when they’re not worried about being criticized for their ideas. That’s the power of respect.

They said these things and more. [Read more…]

Getting Jazzed for Real


When the work is just right. I’m jazzed. I’m thinking large, with focus, fluency, and flexibility. I lose all track of time. I lose myself in what I’m doing. It doesn’t matter who’s around — thinking and working is fun. If I’m writing, I tear through the pages with rhythm that makes music in my head. The force is with me.

That’s called flow. It’s the feeling of optimal experience.

Almost everyone has been there.

What most people don’t know is that it’s been studied and, if you understand it, you can make it happen more often. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi has worked decades on the psychology of happiness, creativity, and fun, but he is most known for his study of flow, optimal experience.

Wikipedia says this about Dr. C’s work.

. . . [in] Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Csikszentmihalyi outlines his theory that people are most happy when they are in a state of flow—a Zen-like state of total oneness with the activity at hand and the situation. The idea of flow is identical to the feeling of being in the zone or in the groove. The flow state is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing. This is a feeling everyone has at times, characterized by a feeling of great freedom, enjoyment, fulfillment, and skill—and during which temporal concerns (time, food, ego-self, etc.) are typically ignored.

In an interview with Wired magazine, Csikszentmihalyi . . . described flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

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If You See This, The Content Is Stolen

Burning match photo

It was less than 3 months ago. I was on Skype with a friend. We were at our computers, discussing Internet issues and Technorati rankings, when he checked a backlink and found a blog by young man named Elliott Bäck. The content, however, was my friend’s work, complete with my friend’s copyright warning stating that

if you see this, the content is stolen.

That page is now a 404.

Elliott Bäck is the same guy who developed a plugin called HashCash to circumvent spammers.

So why would he develop Autoblog, a plugin that is a content scraper?

While I can perfectly understand Elliott’s motivation for writing this plugin (learning more about RSS) I think releasing it was a bad, bad, bad idea. I’m sure a plugin like this can have it’s legitimate merit’s but I personally feel it’s blatantly obvious that it’s number one use will be the thing we’ve all learned to hate: splogs on which we’re going to find OUR content with ads placed all around it. said Marco van Hylckama Vlieg, freelance developer & designer on his blog, The Net Is Dead, last July.

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Are You Looking in the Right Direction?

smiling llama photo

When my son was 5 years old, as I put him to bed, we talked about the business trip I was taking the next day to one of the Western states. I described the city and people I’d meet. I promised to bring a post card for the collection he kept in an album beside his bed.

Then I gently tucked him, and said “Sweet Dreams.”

As I went to the door, he said, “Mom, there are mountains in that state.”

I said, “Yes, you’re right. There sure are.”

I heard my little boy say, “Don’t look that way,” as he pointed left, “and walk that way,” as he pointed right.

He was telling me to be looking in the right direction to navigate the mountain.

I promised not to, gave him a kiss for his concern, all of the while wondering what exactly he had in mind. . . .

What’s looking in the right direction when we’re blogging?

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