There’s Nothing Taboo About Failure

Hi, my name is Kristen and I am a handbag junkie.

In fact, I love them SO much that I spent a very large sum of money to design and sell my own. Unfortunately, though I cherished those handbags and saw them having a unique value proposition, my business never did become profitable. I really thought it was on the brink a couple of times but we all know close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades.

InStyle

I lamented my losses for a long while (and continue to do so when I send my monthly loan payments to the bank). Was I really a failure? I mean, from a financial perspective, it definitely was an epic fail. But if I came away armed with useful knowledge and constructive feedback to apply to my next endeavor, maybe it could be chalked up to a lesson learned, albeit a very expensive one.

I have a close friend who is a co-owner of a man’s skincare line, a very difficult niche market to penetrate. But she believed in her product and drove hard to achieve success with her target. We spoke yesterday and she was completely deflated that her last-ditch efforts to generate revenue yielded no benefit at all. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in the hole and she’s come to the realization that it’s time to say goodbye.

Let me just stop here and tell you, it is HEART WRENCHING to slam the door on your hopes and dreams and downright depressing to see all of your hard work and effort crumble around you. It’s like a bad breakup story. Making the decision to pull the plug is a very humbling experience. Realizing that you couldn’t make it happen? Man, that’s a tough pill to swallow.

I know this all sounds a little dramatic, but if you’ve ever been in the situation, you know all too well how devastating a loss it is. And for a while, you question and second-guess and lament some more, but it won’t change the overall experience. Sometimes, it’s cathartic to just get it all out there, to share your story with anyone who’ll listen. If you have truly lived and learned, you know where you made mistakes. When they are brought to light, maybe next time around you’ll know which pitfalls to avoid. It’s no longer taboo to hold it all in.  More and more entrepreneurs are coming forward with their own stories.  We’re in good company.

Here’s what I can tell you…don’t be too dejected. You can’t crush true entrepreneurial spirit. Don’t give up on it. If it truly resides within you, you’ll achieve your goals. And all the postmortems and lessons learned you’ve collected over time will make you that much more successful in your future endeavors.  I really believe that…

Embrace and nurture that spirit because once you channel it, you can’t turn it off. It’s what makes you a driver. I LOVE the feeling of coming up with new ideas and strategizing about how to make them come to fruition. The creativity charges me.

So even though things may look dismal now, tomorrow, they’ll look a bit better. And the following day, even better than that, until you finally come away with a lot of clarity and direction about how you can launch the next big thing.

I AM…The Idea Mama

You know the moment when inspiration strikes. The whole EUREKA experience…it’s incredible, isn’t it?

And do you know what’s even better? You mention the fabulous idea to an objective outsider and they’re just as charged about it as you are.  That’s the second you know…you have SOMETHING and it’s BIG!!!

#bestfeelingever (LOL!)

Anyhoo, I’m kind of there now.  Yesterday, I came up with not one but TWO ideas…one is for a new romantic suspense series which I started and LOOOOOVE and one is for a business of sorts.  More to come on the latter…still a bit too pre-beta for discussion.

Ask me if I worked on either tonight.

NOPE!

Sometimes it’s nice to have the ideas, the hope and the promise of what can materialize once the gears start cranking. It’s kind of like a honeymoon period…before you have to do the real work that makes all the fabulousness become a reality.

Yeah, I like the reflection period…before all the stress and anxiety kick in. But that’s all part of the process…and how the magic ultimately happens.  =)

 

I’m So Thankful For….

All of YOU!!!!! <3 <3 <3

So in honor of Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to do a GIVEAWAY!!!!!

And who wouldn’t want to win a $25 Amazon gift card, especially this week when the cyber deals are a plenty? Plus, you can also win an e-copy of my newly launched contemporary romance, UNLIKELY VENTURE!!!

So many ways to win!!!  You can add UNLIKELY VENTURE to Goodreads, follow me on Twitter, “like” my Facebook author page or subscribe to my mailing list!

Click here to enter the Gobble Gobble Giveaway!!!

 HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!

toon-thanksgiving-turkey

 

 

How To Make A Big Splash…Relatively Speaking

Launch week was AMAZING!!!!  Okay, I’m not hitting the USA or NYT bestseller lists, but “Unlikely Venture” held onto 2 Amazon bestseller lists – to this moment!  And the rankings are awesome!  I worked really hard to make a big splash launch week and I’m very happy with the results…though I will tirelessly work towards the former. =)

As someone who’s run a small business, I know that editorial review and endorsement far outweighs any paid promotion you can do.  Unpaid, honest reviews by book bloggers are priceless.  And being lucky enough to have one of my fave authors, who also happens to be a literary rock star, mention my launch on her Facebook page? Freaking AMAZING!!!!

I’m not saying there is no value in paid promotions, especially since I invested in many, but the results confirm independent validation and acknowledgment have much more of an impact.

I also had a small team to help me raise awareness of my launch as part of a grassroots effort, since I am a debut author with a very limited budget. But

I’ve come to realize it’s not the size of the team but their dedication to the effort and their unwillingness to take no for an answer.  Hoofing it in and around Grand Central Station in New York City, making personal contact with potential readers, raising awareness and interest…all indications point to SUCCESS in the rankings.  And the ladies LOVED these guys!!!!

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The launch week goal was to get my name out there, to attract new readers and to get them excited for the stories I absolutely HAVE to tell, because there are many more to come.

As of press time, I’m currently sitting at #6 and #37 on two Amazon bestseller lists.

Cheers to that!

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IT’S LAUNCH DAY!!!!!!!!!

It is finally LAUNCH DAY!!!!  You can find “Unlikely Venture” pretty much everywhere online at a special launch price of $0.99 – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iBooks, Kobo…take your pick. =)

I am SO thankful for the enthusiasm and support of my family and friends…it’s been a long road but we’re finally here! Today marks the beginning of my exciting new journey!!!

Unlikely Venture_FINAL_high

Anyone who knows me well also knows I am a huge Foo Fighters fan.  Coincidentally, so are James and Jessica. Go figure.  =)

Here’s an awesome video I found on YouTube of Dave Grohl, frontman for the Foo Fighters, talking about the hit song “Everlong.” I absolutely LOVE this tune and it totally inspired the story of James and Jessica.

I learned later that the song wasn’t ever supposed to be on a record but it holds a lot of meaning for the band and ended up putting the Foo Fighters on the map…for everlong.  Guess it was just meant to be.

“Everlong” by the Foo Fighters

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You Have Five Seconds To Impress Me…GO!

I’m long-winded by nature. If something can be stated in five words, it will take me thirty to get there. Luckily, I’ve tempered this in my writing.  But speaking…yeah, takes me a while to get to the point.

So it’s no surprise that I hate the words “elevator speech.”

This is the golden opportunity to pitch your idea/product or service.  Here’s the set up.  A prospective customer steps into an elevator. The doors close. You have about a five-second window to score a sale. What the heck do you say???

Back in my handbag designing days, when women would ask me what’s so special about Krina bags…well, let’s just say when my back was to the wall and I needed to impress, I fell short.  Exquisite Italian leathers…eh.  Vivid colors…boring.   Made in the U.S.A…makes them more expensive and potentially cost-prohibitive.  Um, Katherine Heigl has one?  Try again.

Same concept applies to writing. People find out I’m a writer and they’re curious about my novels.  Oh, you have a new book coming out? What’s it about? While it’s a simple question, one which I should be able to answer easily, how do I convince them they absolutely NEED to read it?

Well, there are a couple of parts to a successful elevator pitch. And as luck would have it, the setup really applies to any type of sale.

1. Set The Stage – Choose your first few words carefully. They need to hook your audience immediately and heighten interest in your overall message.

2. Reel Them In – Identify the conflict. Provide a scenario that identifies a challenge or obstacle.

3. Establish The Need – Provide differentiation. Show your audience why your product or service is something they need to buy. How is it going to make their life better? In other words, WHY SHOULD THEY CARE?

Check it out…it even works with books!!! This is my elevator pitch for “Unlikely Venture.”

After devastating news threatens her livelihood, Jessica Latham swears off men…until she meets Silicon Valley rising star James Callahan. But when a vindictive frenemy exposes Jessica’s scandalous secret, James is forced to choose – the future of his company or his heart?

It’s hard to stand out in only a few seconds. But when people ask, you need to hook them in otherwise they’ll shut down and anything you say will just be white noise.

You have one chance to make a first impression. So make it COUNT!!

I Want A New Drug

Some people say you should write what you know. It makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, you can deliver a more compelling story if you’re familiar with the subject.

My editor told me from day one to expand out of my comfort zone and do just the opposite.

When I wrote Unlikely Venture, I had a storyline in my head. Okay, that’s not exactly true. I had about a HUNDRED stories in my head before landing on the ONE, and even then I flip-flopped around until I landed on the right resolution. I decided to take a few risks when developing the story but I was always anchored to my original ideas. Two books later, I’ve sufficiently escaped the confines of that comfort zone. I went in directions that I’d have never considered before and I love the result. Hopefully, you all will as well…

Creating…is an addiction.  One I can’t fight.

Now I sit at my laptop scratching my head. Heightened drama, more intrigue, more plot twists…yes, The Venture Series in totality exceeded my expectations. But now what? I’ve written my first contemporary romance series, and though I am completely invested in my characters, it’s…over. Time to say goodbye. Sigh.

I liken it to a breakup. You spend years with someone and eventually part ways because you both want different things out of life. All the time you invested is lost and you need to refocus that energy on developing a new relationship. It’s nerve wracking. How are you going to find someone you think is just as perfect as the former Ms. or Mr. Right? There’s a whole lot of effort involved and you might need to expand your horizons and level set your expectations. You also have to open yourself to the possibility that there may be more heartbreak on the horizon before you find THE ONE.

But then one night, the stars align and you run into the person you were meant to spend the rest of your life with. The initial fear and apprehension may linger…after all, if something is too good to be true…well, you know how that saying goes.

As time goes on, you realize your life would be meaningless without this person and if you hadn’t opened your eyes wide enough to make a change, you would have missed out on meeting your true soul mate. You took a risk and it paid off.

I came to this realization after receiving some sound advice from a fellow author. She opened my eyes to a world where I need to challenge myself and embrace new ideas and direction. It makes perfect sense!

I need to disrupt my writing process, to dig deep and continue mastering my craft. It will take time, dedication and patience (which is always in short-supply). But I’m committed to my end goal…and diversification will be a key driver.

Who says authors aren’t entrepreneurs???

Resounding success is not found overnight, nor is it the result of “playing it safe.” It’s about the journey, not necessarily the destination (unless the destination is the NYT Bestseller list!). And it’s always the biggest risks that pay off the most.

I’ll Be Wearing Valentino When I Collect My Oscar

Gillian Flynn is living my dream. Not only is she an A-list New York Times best-selling author, but she’s also headed for the Oscars with the film adaptation of “Gone Girl.”  Red carpet, designer gown, borrowed Harry Winston jewels…yes, she is a freaking rock star in my opinion.

My books take me about three-four months to complete. I don’t outline or plan…I just write. I let the characters take me along for the ride. Sometimes I’m surprised at their decisions, sometimes elated at their realizations, sometimes saddened about events for which they lack control, but I’m always excited to find out what happens next.

During the writing process, I get to know my characters.  For example, I wrote a nine-page character sketch on the hero in my latest novel (which is about four scenes away from being in completed draft mode – YAY!). I needed to get inside his head so I could convince my readers who and what he is and why.  I crafted a picture in my mind. I hear his voice in my head as I read his exchanges with other characters. I know his expressions and his mannerisms. He is as real as I am.

So naturally, I can see him on the silver screen.  I’d love the chance to make him as real to the world as he is to me, to create the alternate reality I’ve lived for the past several months.  Gillian Flynn had her chance…and it’s paid off royally….to the point of $77.9 million (as of press time for the 10/24 issue of Entertainment Weekly).

Ahhh…like I said…THE DREAM.

But first things first…gotta hit the lists before I can collect my own Oscar…in Valentino.  =)

Please Brand Me Now!!!!

Branding.

Argh.  Sooo challenging…and so permanent.  It needs to be just right.

Identifying your “brand” is kind of like going to college, where the goal is trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life.  But at eighteen, who really knows THAT?

You have to pick a major but what are the odds that in a few years you’ll even be interested in pursuing a career in the field?  Your scope of interests expands, you identify and refine your skill sets, you grow as a person. So at the end of the four years, are you where you thought you’d eventually end up?

Haha, not me!

I started out pre-law then decided to become a biology major with grandiose plans of becoming a patent lawyer.  That didn’t work too well, so I tried psychology next, then political science.  Finally, I landed on accounting.  Never used my degree, and the extent of my accounting knowledge is limited to distinguishing a debit from a credit.

The point is, we aren’t the same people at 18 as we are at 25 and then at 40.  We develop and expand our horizons.  So while it’s important to figure out how you’re going to differentiate yourself from the competition, you don’t always know out of the gate who and what you will ultimately become.  The reality may be vastly different than what you imagined.  And that impacts your branding.

I can tell you from personal experience I’ve branded and rebranded myself many times over the years, trying to figure out how I want the world to know me.  This became even more challenging for me as an author because at the end of the day, I write romance novels.  But I am much more multi-faceted – how can I reflect that in my platform?  I finally figured it out, but it was a journey.

I first did an exercise where I created a word cloud.  I wrote down every single interest and skill I have.  It became a little unwieldy, so I narrowed it down.  Way too much for a tagline and nothing of real value popped out.

More introspection followed.

Courtesy of melodyhossaini.com

Courtesy of melodyhossaini.com

I’ve blogged for years, primarily about the trials and tribulations of being a working mother with three kids.  Maybe that would be a good platform.  But what’s the hook?  How does that differentiate me from other romance authors?  I’m not the only one with kids and a lot of angst.

It may make me relatable but…it doesn’t set me apart.

I consulted with the experts, read books and articles, searching for inspiration.  I created a bunch of different taglines using the thesaurus app on my phone.  I blogged some more.  I made notes about themes from my books.  Nothing, nothing, NOTHING.

Fast forward a few months.

As I prepared for my upcoming book launch, I realized I needed business cards….and a tagline.  Darn it!  Back to the drawing board.  There was no way I was ordering business cards without a logo from Fiverr.  That site rocks!  And I couldn’t get a logo unless I established a BRAND!

So how can I tie my interests to my books?  I write romance…set in Silicon Valley.  Think venture capitalists, startup CEOs and IPOs…

And now I blog about innovation and entrepreneurship and…IDEAS!  My own personal business experiences combined with interesting startup concepts.

The rest, as they say, is history.  I finally figured myself out.  I am “The Idea Mama, Vogue Entrepreneur and Author.”

It was a good day…and my business cards look fabulous!

Yet Another Teaser & Giveaway…YAY!!!!!

Hubby was just on Facebook and pointed to a picture of a girl named Gina who just had a Scrabble piece of the letter “G” tattooed to her ankle.  He said, “Would you ever do that?”  And I shook my head vehemently.  “No, absolutely not.  My name doesn’t begin with a ‘G’.”

LOL.  But seriously….

I’m so excited to plan for the launch of “Unlikely Venture!”  It’s been a long time preparing for this and I can’t believe the launch is almost here!

So I had to release yet another fabulous teaser…accompanied by a giveaway!

Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card but clicking here:  http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f30243524/

All you need to do is: sign up for my mailing list, like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter or friend me on Booktropolous Social.  You can enter once or up to four times!  It’s super easy!!

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