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Above: My dad, Robert M. Sammon, Sr.
We are between Mother's Day and Father's Day. With my dearly departed parents in mind, I thought I'd share some of their wisdom with you - wisdom that can help you with your business (and which has helped mine).
I'll start with my dad's advice.
1) It takes a lot of peanuts to feed an elephant. My dad, who lived through the depression, encouraged me to make, and save, as many pennies as possible. This is sound business advice. Pennies add up, quicker than you might imagine.
Want to feed the elephant? Sign up for as many affiliate and associate programs (Amazon and camera stores, as well as plug-in companies, for example) as possible. Get into as many on-line sales opportunities as possible.
2) Even the President of the United States puts his pants on one leg at a time. My dad was telling me that we are basically all the same. He was offering me encouragement: If one man can do it, so can you.
Want some more encouragement? Read Real Magic by Dr. Wayne Dyer.
3) Hard work pays off. My dad never really said that, but he was a great example of that philosophy.
I vividly remember one snow holiday in the early 1950s, when it used to snow heavily in New York, when he put on his hat, coat and buckle boots (which I don't think they make any more) and walked a few miles to the train station – while it was still snowing. He had an important meeting in New York City that he could not miss. He always wanted to do the best job possible. His hard work paid off. He died last year at age 92 in his own home, and could still afford to live comfortably. What more could you ask for?
So my friends: work hard and save those peanuts.
Above: That's me in the early 1950s working hard on my homework. Photo by my dad.
Above: My mother, Josephine T. Sammon, with my son Marco.
Okay. Now it's my mother's turn.
1) Someone is always watching.
This is great advice to keep in mind in designing and posting stuff on your web site/blog. You never know who is watching. Someone may be watching who needs exactly what you have to offer. He or she may be a millionaire and may have a few bucks to spend on you and your services!
Keep your site/blog up to date with the best you can offer.
Also: know your audience. Post, write and design for your specific audience.
2) Always sandwich a criticism with compliments.
If you feel as though you need to criticize another photographer's work, don't just jump in with criticism. Rather, try to encourage the person to do better - before and after you get to your point.
3) Never give up.
Every time I got a rejection letter or email for a book idea, I thought about this quote. Sooooo glad I followed my mother's advice. Today I have 36 books, my latest is Creative Visualization for Photographers.
I know it sounds easy, especially when you are down. However, don't let others get you down. Also remember that timing is everything. A "no" today could be a "yes" tomorrow.
4) To thine own self be true.
Ya know, I really did not like it when my mother used this quote. However, it's really good advice for photographers. Be true to yourself. Follow your heart. Photograph what you love.
5) Sticks and stones can break your bones, but names can never hurt you.
Today, it's easy to hide behind fake names on the internet and post bad book, app and photo reviews.
Don't listen to what others say while hiding. In fact, don't listen to negative comments from folks who just set out to be mean. Their comments often say more about themselves than you!
6) Don't curse.
I vividly remember my mother washing out my mouth with a new, big and white bar of IVORY soap after I used a curse word. Well, I am not saying that today I am a saint, but I never use an inappropriate word on the web. I have dropped people from facebook and twitter for doing just that. I don't want to be associated with 'em. So, keep it clean and you will not offend anyone.
7) Be a good listener.
Before I went on my first date, my mother told me to be a good listener. This was good advice, as I got a second date. :-)
Today, we must be good listeners on Google+, twitter, Facebook, Instagram and in the comments section on our blogs. You can't just talk - you must listen. Get to know your audience.
Along the lines of being a good listener, remember this: There is always room for improvement.
• • • • •
I'll end with something my guide in Brazil said to my son when we said goodbye at the airport: "Your best friends are your parents."
If you want to post some tips from your parents, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear.
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Have you ever wanted to write a how-to book? Need some advice? Well, you've come to the right place my friend!
Here are the tips that I have followed while writing my 36 books, the latest, Creative Visualization for Photographers.
I also following these tips when writing my e-books.
These tips apply to writing all types of how-to books, not only photography books, which is my book specialty.
1 – Study and know your subject - inside and out. Old saying: If you want to become an expert on something, write a book about it. As well as you may know a subject, hire (or have the publisher hire) a technical editor. He or she will probably catch stuff you miss and mistakes you make.
2 – Know where you are going. Before you start, have a detailed outline (which may change). If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there?
3 – Respect the reader. This might be the most important tip. When writing each sentence, respect the reader. Remember, you are not writing the book for yourself, you are writing it for the reader. When writing your book, keep Amazon.com reviews in mind. You want as many 5-star ratings as possible, and you have a better chance of getting those rating if you respect the reader and do you very, very best.
Shortly after my my latest book was released, it had a 5-star rating and was #1 in three categories on Amazon. One reason: I respected the reader while writing the book.
4 – Leave no question unanswered. Don’t leave the reader asking asking the question: Why did the author not complete that line of thought? Go the extra mile when talking about a topic.
5 – Know your competition. Go on-line and see what other authors are doing on the same subject. Ask yourself: How can I make my book, better/different . . . the best?
6 – Have more material than you think you need. You need a lot of material to write a how-to book: photos, illustrations and text. In planning your book, plan on having more material than you think you need.
7 – Make it easy and fun for the publisher/editor to work with you. Be flexible. I am not the best photographer or author on the planet, but I do pride myself on being perhaps one of the easiest when it comes to working together.
8 – Give your editor specific instructions. For example, when I submit photographs, I tell my editor: "Crop my pictures and you're a dead man!" After which I add this symbol: :-)
9 - Plan ahead. Never miss a deadline. Give yourself plenty of time to write . . . and edit and rewrite and rewrite and edit, etc. Remember: Dates in your rear view mirror are closer than you think.
10 - Let your personality show/shine though. In reality, many other authors know what you know. What makes your book different? Your personality, your style. Write like you talk and don’t try to write too fancy. Tell a few (just a few) jokes and personal stories. Let people get to know you.
11 - Have fun! If you are not having fun writing your book, that will probably come though to your audience. Even if you are not having fun, write as though you are having fun. As I tell folks at book signings: "It's sometimes not fun writing a book, but it's always fun autographing one!"
12 – PR your book. After your book is completed, it’s really up to you to promote the book, though social media and on your web site. You are the best PR agent your book can have. Get your friends to help you promote your book, too.
When I talk about writing a book to potential authors, I share these three quotes:
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. – Ernest Hemingway
Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words. – Mark Twain
I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done. - Steven Wright
Good luck writing your how-to book!
Here is a link to my other how-to books on Amazon.com.
Explore the light,
Canon Explorer of Light
P.S. These same basic tips apply for producing on-line classes. Click here to read about the classes that I have produced. Again, the main element: respect the audience.