How to Turn Jealousy into Positivity

How to Turn Jealousy into Positivity

You see a post on LinkedIn by a former work nemesis about their latest project and feel a knot form in the pit of your stomach. How come they are doing so well when you’re not? Ugh. Comparing yourself to others can lead to insecurity, envy, and negativity.

How can we transform this professional jealousy into something positive?

Recognize that everybody feels this way. We all have ​hate googled someone​. After that initial hit of jealousy turn proactive. No wallowing allowed.

You do not know what they have done to get where they are. You don’t know how many years they’ve struggled. You don’t know how hard they’ve worked on their craft or building their network. Without all the information, it isn’t an apples to apples comparison. Especially if you’re looking at someone who started their career journey before you.

If you need a boost, look at your ​accomplishments list ​or read your bio. We are always so focused on what we want; it is easy to forget all the wonderful things we have already done.

And don’t forget what has happened in the last few years that impacted your career. Maybe you have struggled with addiction or lost a loved one. Give yourself grace for what you have been dealing with.

When you feel the bitterness about other people’s accomplishments creep up, the best thing you can do is focus on yourself and the things you can control. Create more. Learn more. Try new things. You may be surprised at what happens next.


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How to Survive and Thrive at Conferences

How to Survive and Thrive at Conferences

Every weekend there is an interesting conference or convention going on somewhere. I recommend attending at least one a year to grow your skills and your network. If traveling is not in your budget, find a local one. Here are just a few of the things going on in my hometown of Houston this year: ​The League of Romance Writers Conference​, ​Comicpalooza​, and the ​Houston Film Festival​.

Here are my tips and tricks for getting the most out of conferences and conventions.

Before You Go

Booking Your Hotel

While it is cheaper to stay with friends and family, I strongly recommend staying in the hotel near the venue. You want to be where most of the attendees are staying. (There is usually a discounted rate.) Some of the best networking is in the hotel bar and lobby. You will also run into people you have just met in the halls and elevator. Re-meeting people you have been in sessions with often leads to spontaneous meals and wonderful evenings.

Plan Your Conference

What do you want to get out of the conference? Is it sell a project? Meet one of the speakers? Learn a skill? Build your network? What your goal is should inform your plan.

Read the program, concentrating on the session descriptions and the speakers’ bios. Many conferences have tracks of workshops with different themes like craft and marketing. Pick the sessions you want to attend and the speakers you want to meet. Type out the schedule of the sessions you are interested in so that you are not constantly having to page through the program. If the conference has an app, download it and learn how to use it.

Perfect Your Pitches

Have strong ​personal​ and ​project cocktail pitches​ so that you feel confident introducing yourself and talking about your projects.

Business Cards

Business cards are a must for networking. I use ​moo.com​ for my cards. They have hundreds of cool designs, or you can upload your own that you designed in ​Canva​. Be sure to order a month or more ahead of time so you don’t have to pay rush fees. Order more than you think you’ll need. It’s better to have too many than to run out and you can always use them later. If you get in a bind, you can ship them to yourself at the hotel. Also, you need a nice business card case to carry your cards. You don’t want to keep them in your wallet where they have a tendency to get bent and wrinkled. Amazon has tons of inexpensive card cases to choose from.

Conference Business Card Hack: Put your extra cards in a Ziploc bag to keep them from getting bent. Have another Ziploc bag to put other people’s business cards in. This trick prevents you from losing your stack of new friends’ cards.

If there is a spot for you to leave some cards, consider making an about me form. Put your personal logline with your website, newsletter, and socials QRs. To make it stand out, use your brand colors. Put it in a frame with your cards in front of it.

Name tag

While most conferences give you a ticket with your name on it that hangs around your neck, they are difficult to see. Consider designing your own name tag you wear closer to eye level on your shoulder. I got mine from ​andrea@newbart.com​ for $3.50. These are magnetic, so they don’t put holes in your clothes.

Conference Survival Kit

Your bag will get heavy quickly. Instead of a backpack, I like a ​rolling bag​. This one has a laptop sleeve, a place for your water bottle and lots of pockets. As a bonus, it fits under the seat on a plane.

  • Sweatshirt – It is always cold in convention centers.
  • Laptop
  • Laptop and phone chargers
  • Power bank – the higher the mAh, the more powerful the charger. This one has enough power to charge a cell phone one and a half times.
  • Hot spot – sign up for a hot spot with your cell phone provider so you can connect to the internet if you need to.
  • Notebook
  • Pen
  • Reading glasses
  • Sunglasses for outside breaks
  • Business card case
  • Extra business cards in Ziploc bag
  • Empty Ziploc bag for the business cards you collect.
  • Granola and protein bars and other snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Tissues
  • Lip balm
  • Hand lotion
  • Brush/comb
  • Umbrella
  • Advil/Tylenol
  • Allergy pills or other medication
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Make up for touch ups
  • Eye drops for dry eyes

During the Conference

How to Dress

Different conferences have different dress codes. For comic and animation conventions, the standard uniform is a funky tee shirt, jeans, and sneakers. Others everyone is in suits. Check the conference website for pictures of what people wore last year. When in doubt, go for business casual. It is important to look put together and professional. The most important part of your wardrobe is comfortable shoes. While you sit a lot, you also are on your feet a lot, walking to sessions and networking.

Pro Tip for Women: If you wear heels, carry comfortable shoes in your bag in case your feet hurt.

Pro Tip #2 for Women: Get a good blow out so you don’t have to do your hair in the morning.

Network the Easy Way

You are there to meet people! Introduce yourself to at least three new people a day. Conferences are the easiest place to network because everyone wants to meet people. They are friendly and open.

Don’t Eat Lunch Alone

Eat meals with new friends you have made. It is fun to bond over burgers or a cocktail.

Take Breaks

It’s easy to get tired and overwhelmed at a crowded and busy conference. Plan down time to rest and rejuvenate. It’s okay to go back to your room for an hour or two. Or get some fresh air by the pool.

If you have energy during your downtime, start adding business cards you collected to your contacts and LinkedIn.

Pro Tip: In the notes section, add the conference and the year so you can remember where you met them. Also, add other details about their project and where they are from.

I like to send a nice to meet you email, referencing something you talked about or did (to help your new contact remember you. They are meeting lots of people too.) 99% of people do not email. It will make you stand out.

After the Conference

Follow Up

Continue inputting the business cards and sending nice to meet you emails. If you have promised to send someone something, do it. If some of your new friends live near you, reach out for lunch.

I know you will be exhausted after days of meeting, greeting, and learning so give yourself a week to finish your follow ups. Again, most people do not follow up, so you will be memorable.

Selling at a Conference

If you are selling books or art a convention, here are some tips to make your booth and must stop shop.

Use brand-colored tablecloths and backdrops. Have lots of signs.

  • Your project loglines and pitches.
  • Your personal logline.
  • If you have a series, the reading order.
  • Your tropes.
  • Prices and how to pay. Avoid credit card processing fee by using Venmo, Zelle, & PayPal. Use your QR codes on the signs.

You can sell ebooks in person using BookFunnel.

For fun, consider dressing up in the style of your books.


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Maximize Your Potential: The Power of 7 Effective Habits

Maximize Your Potential: The Power of 7 Effective Habits

Happy 2024! I hope you had a wonderful, rejuvenating holiday. I am feeling positive and excited about this year.

Let’s continue to cultivate a positive outlook! A recent conversation with my sister brought ​Stephen Covey​‘s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People back into my focus, a classic that has been guiding readers since its first publication in 1989. When I read this book, I had lots of ahs.

Covey’s Seven Habits are more than just tips; they are guideposts for leading a fulfilling personal and professional life. Let’s explore these timeless habits.

1. Be Proactive: Instead of reacting to things that happen, proactive people understand that their actions and decisions shape their lives. Try focusing on your circle of influence, the things they can actually do something about, rather than your circle of concern, which includes things out of your control.

2. Begin with the End in Mind: This habit is all about knowing your destination. It’s like setting up a life GPS – you need to know where you’re heading to navigate correctly. It’s about having a clear vision or goal, which helps guide your day-to-day actions and decisions. This habit is another version of making choices with your future self in mind.

3. Put First Things First: Picture your life as a jar filled with rocks, pebbles, and sand. The big rocks are your major priorities, and you’ve got to put them in first to make sure they fit. This habit is about organizing and managing your time and energy based on your personal priorities. It’s about being disciplined, but also flexible to ensure that you’re focusing on what’s truly important, not just what’s urgent.

4. Think Win-Win: This habit is about fostering an attitude of mutual benefit in all interactions. It’s not about being nice; it’s about being smart. It’s a mindset that looks for mutually beneficial solutions and agreements in your personal and professional relationships.

5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood: This habit is about listening empathetically, without interrupting, and really trying to grasp the perspective of others before pushing your own viewpoint. Build genuine connections and trust by showing that you truly value others’ thoughts and feelings.

6. Synergize: Value and respect people’s differences, realizing that together, we can produce far better results than individually. By bringing different perspectives and strengths together, you can create something truly extraordinary.

7. Sharpen the Saw: This habit is about self-renewal and self-care. Imagine your body and mind as a saw – you need to keep it sharp to cut through the wood of life effectively. It means regularly renewing and taking care of yourself in four areas: physical (exercise, nutrition), social/emotional (relationships, empathy), mental (learning, reading), and spiritual (values, meditation).

Each habit builds upon the others. It’s like having a personal toolbox for life. Regularly practicing the Seven Habits can profoundly shift for the better your outlook and experience in your career and personal life. Try it and let me know what you think!

Keep reading for a breakdown of each habit!

1. Be Proactive

At its core, being proactive is about recognizing that as individuals, we have the responsibility and the ability to choose our responses to any situation. We can choose how we react to circumstances, people, and events. It’s a shift from a reactive mindset (“Life happens to me”) to a proactive one (“I create my life”).

Reactive people often feel victimized by their environment and believe that external factors dictate their happiness and success. They use language like “I can’t,” “I have to,” or “If only.” Proactive people use language like “I can,” “I will,” or “I prefer.” This language reflects a belief in their own ability to influence events and outcomes.

A central element of being proactive is understanding the concept of the Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern. The Circle of Influence encloses the things we can do something about: our actions, attitudes, and the way we respond to situations. The Circle of Concern, however, encompasses things over which we have little or no control, like the weather, the economy, or others’ behavior. Proactive people focus their time and energy on the Circle of Influence. They work on things they can control, and as they do, their Circle of Influence expands.

Proactive people are aware of their values and goals, and they let these guide their actions. They are not easily swayed by emotions or external events. This self-awareness allows them to stay focused on their Circle of Influence, rather than getting caught up in reactive emotions.

In essence, Be Proactive is more than just taking action. It’s about taking responsibility for our own life. It’s about recognizing our own power to choose our response to any situation, to focus on our Circle of Influence, and to act with our deepest values and principles. This habit lays the foundation for all the other habits in Covey’s book and sets the stage for effective personal and professional leadership.

2. Begin with the End in Mind

Centers on the principle of envisioning your life’s goals and desired outcomes as a guide for your present actions

This habit is rooted in the principle that all things are created twice: there’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation. The mental creation is our vision, the clear idea of what we want to achieve. The physical creation follows our thoughts. Just like a building follows a blueprint, our actions and outcomes should follow our personal vision.

Covey suggests developing a personal mission statement as a part of this habit. This mission statement is like a personal constitution, a foundation upon which you base decisions, actions, and the evaluation of the paths you choose in life. It reflects your deepest values and the principles you choose to live by.

He guides us to explore goals in all areas of life: personal, professional, family, and community. By setting goals aligned with our values in each area, we create a balanced approach to our personal and professional development.

Begin with the End in Mind also involves a proactive approach to life. Rather than being a passive participant, we become the author of our life story. We’re encouraged to live life by design, not by default, actively shaping our own destiny rather than being shaped by circumstances.

In a practical sense, this habit is about continuously aligning our daily actions and decisions with our long-term vision, ensuring that we are on the right path toward our desired destination.

Overall, Begin with the End in Mind is a call to action to live a life of intention and purpose. It’s about defining what truly matters to us and directing our talents and energies towards those desires.

3. Put First Things First

This habit is all about prioritization and time management, organizing our lives in line with what’s most important.

Covey introduces the concept of a Time Management Matrix to explain this habit. This matrix is divided into four quadrants representing different activities:

Quadrant 1 (Urgent and Important): These are crises and emergencies, things that demand immediate attention. They’re often associated with someone else’s priorities. While these tasks are important, constantly operating in this quadrant leads to stress and burnout.

Quadrant 2(Not Urgent but Important): This is the heart of effective personal management. Activities here include relationship building, long-term planning, exercising, and personal development. They’re not pressing, but crucial for long-term success and well-being. Covey argues effective people spend most of their time in this quadrant.

Quadrant 3 (Urgent but Not Important): These tasks are often interruptions with little value, like some calls, emails, or meetings. They seem urgent but don’t significantly contribute to our long-term objectives or values.

Quadrant 4 (Neither Urgent nor Important): These are the time-wasters, the trivial activities, and distractions that don’t add any real value to our lives or goals.

Put First Things First is about saying no to less important things so that you can say yes to things that really matter. It’s not just time management, but self-management, giving a framework for making daily decisions that align with your long-term goals and values.

Covey emphasizes that effective time management involves a paradigm shift from being busy to being productive. This means being mindful of our everyday choices and recognizing the difference between what is urgent and what is important.

Implementing this habit involves planning and prioritizing weekly rather than daily. Covey suggests identifying roles (like parent, employee, friend) and setting goals within each role every week. Then, scheduling time for these goals ensures your week reflects your most important priorities.

Put First Things First is about living life according to your deepest values and making sure that your daily actions reflect these values. It’s about not letting the urgent drown out the important so that you can achieve a more balanced, effective, and fulfilling life.

4. Think Win-Win

This habit is central to building positive and effective relationships, both personally and professionally.

Think Win-Win isn’t just a technique; it’s a philosophy of human interaction. It’s based on the paradigm that there is plenty for everyone, and one person’s success doesn’t have to come at the expense of others. Solutions can be found that will benefit all parties involved. This approach fosters respectful, nurturing, and sustainable relationships.

Covey contrasts Win-Win with other paradigms:

  • Win-Lose: The attitude of “if I win, you lose.” It’s a competitive viewpoint that sees life as a zero-sum game. This mindset often stems from deep-rooted insecurities and the need to dominate.
  • Lose-Win: This is a weak approach where one person capitulates to the other’s demands. It’s a “I lose, you win” mindset, often resulting from a desire to appease others and avoid confrontation.
  • Lose-Lose: When two stubborn parties interact, both might end up losing. It’s often the result of a Win-Lose attitude clashing with another Win-Lose attitude.
  • Win: This approach seeks personal victory without considering the impact on others.
  • Win-Win or No Deal: If a mutually beneficial solution isn’t available, the parties agree to disagree agreeably – no deal. This option is better than being stuck in a situation where one or both parties feel exploited or resentful.

To adopt a Win-Win mentality, Covey suggests developing an abundance mindset, the belief that there’s enough for everyone. This contrasts with the scarcity mindset, where people see everything in terms of win-lose. With an abundance mindset, you believe that by working together, everyone can benefit.

In practical terms, implementing a Win-Win approach involves clear, open, and honest communication. It’s important to understand and clarify personal values and expectations and to be open to understanding and valuing others’ perspectives. This approach is particularly effective in negotiations and conflict resolution, where understanding and meeting the needs of all parties can lead to more durable and satisfying outcomes.

5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

This habit is foundational for effective listening and empathetic engagement with others.

Covey describes this habit as the key to effective interpersonal communication. He explains that most people typically seek first to be understood; they want to get their point across. In doing so, they often ignore the other person’s perspective, listen selectively, or focus on a reply while the other person is still speaking. This approach can lead to misunderstandings and a lack of connection.

To Seek First to Understand means to really listen to another person’s ideas and feelings intending to understand, not to reply. It’s about empathetically listening with the aim of genuinely understanding the other person’s frame of reference and feelings. Covey emphasizes that empathetic listening involves much more than registering, reflecting, or even understanding what is said. It’s about understanding the emotion and meaning underlying the words.

Then to Be Understood is the second part of this habit. Covey points out that if you have genuinely listened and understood the other person, they are more likely to be receptive and open to your perspective. This part of the habit is about presenting your ideas clearly, concisely, and effectively after you have listened empathetically. It’s about making your point in a way that others can understand and accept.

In practice, this habit requires us to develop our listening skills. Covey differentiates between five levels of listening: ignoring, pretending, selective listening, attentive listening, and empathetic listening. Empathetic listening is the most effective, as it involves listening intending to understand.

This habit can transform personal and professional relationships. By truly understanding another person’s perspective, we open up possibilities for creative problem-solving, mutual understanding, and cooperation.

6. Synergize

This habit is about the combined power of teamwork.

Covey describes synergy as the essence of principle-centered leadership. It is the belief that when people combine their strengths, they can produce outcomes that are far superior to what they could achieve alone. This isn’t just about working together; it’s about creating something innovative and extraordinary through collaboration and collective effort.

Synergy is based on the idea that differences should be celebrated and leveraged rather than merely tolerated. Covey stresses that true synergy requires open-mindedness and the willingness to explore new approaches. It involves being genuinely open to other people’s influence, valuing their perspectives, and bringing together diverse viewpoints to find a better solution.

A key aspect of synergizing is effective communication. This requires building on the fifth habit – ‘Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.’ By truly understanding and valuing each other’s input, team members can create a safe and open environment for discussing new ideas and perspectives.

Synergy is also about creative cooperation. It’s a process that involves brainstorming, open dialogue, and the shared excitement of discovering new solutions.

In practical terms, achieving synergy within a team or group requires a culture of trust and respect. Members must feel valued and safe to express their ideas and viewpoints. Leaders play a crucial role in fostering this environment, encouraging diversity of thought, and mediating to combine these diverse perspectives into a coherent and effective strategy.

Synergize is a powerful concept that can transform interpersonal relationships and group dynamics. This habit is essential for effective teamwork, innovative problem-solving, and achieving extraordinary results in any collaborative endeavor.

7. Sharpen the Saw

Is the concept of self-care and continuous improvement. It’s about taking care of and enhancing your greatest asset – yourself. This habit is the key to preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have.

Covey uses the metaphor of a woodcutter who is sawing for several days straight and is becoming less and less productive. The process of cutting dulls the saw. So, the solution is to stop periodically and sharpen the saw.. In our lives, this means taking the time to renew ourselves in four key areas.

1. Physical Renewal: This involves caring for your physical body – exercise, nutrition, and rest. Physical well-being is the foundation of effective living and performance. Regular exercise improves mood, health, and energy levels, enabling more effective functioning in all other areas of life.

2. Social/Emotional Renewal: This is about building and maintaining healthy relationships with others. It involves empathic communication, deep listening, and genuine connection with people. This aspect focuses on developing interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and a supportive network of relationships.

3. Mental Renewal: This area involves stimulating and expanding your mind. Reading, writing, learning new skills, and engaging in creative activities keep the mind sharp and ready to tackle challenges. It’s about education and intellectual growth, continuously expanding your knowledge and skills.

4. Spiritual Renewal: This area is about inner peace, values, and reflection. It could involve meditation, prayer, music, art, nature, or anything else that provides you with a sense of purpose, peace, and personal worth. This aspect helps you to connect with your inner values and gives a sense of meaning and purpose to your life.

Covey emphasizes that neglecting any of these areas can lead to feeling unbalanced and less effective. It’s like trying to cut wood with a dull saw – you might be working hard, but not smart.

Sharpen the Saw encapsulates the essence of personal growth and self-care. It’s about maintaining balance, renewing yourself regularly, and ensuring you have the energy, ability, and focus to achieve your best in every aspect of life.

Write Your Future! Unleashing the Power of Future-Driven Creativity

Write Your Future! Unleashing the Power of Future-Driven Creativity

As we head into the new year, let’s talk about a powerful new mindset that will supercharge your 2024. The concept of making choices from the perspective of Future You from ​Benjamin Hardy​‘s book Personality Isn’t Permanent.​

The two main parts of this concept are:

  1. Vision-Driven Choices: Instead of making decisions based on current preferences, emotions, or circumstances, make choices that align with who you want to be in the future – your desired future self. Ask what your future self would do and make decisions that reflect that.
  2. ​Long-Term Thinking​: Consider how today’s choices will affect your future. Prioritize actions that bring you closer to your future goals.

Embracing Your Future You in Your Daily Writing Routine

Let’s explore how thinking about your future self can invigorate and guide your writing journey.

1. Define Your Future Writer Self

Picture who you want to be as a writer. What kind of stories do you want to tell? What voice do you wish to develop? Make it as concrete as possible. Maybe your future self creates witty banter, or you’re the next big thing in mystery novels. This vision will serve as your north star, guiding your daily writing routine.

2. Set Goals Aligned with Your Future You

Once you have a clear picture of your future writer self, set goals that align with this vision. These goals should be specific, measurable, and time-bound. For instance, if your future self is an accomplished novelist, your goal might be to complete a novel draft in a year. This means setting daily or weekly writing targets that contribute to this larger goal.

3. Make Decisions with Future You in Mind

Every day, you’re at a crossroads: to write or not to write. Here’s a cool trick – ask yourself, “What would my future successful writer self do?” Even on those days when your muse is playing hide and seek, remember, your future self is counting on you to keep the words flowing. This mindset is your secret weapon for staying on track.

4. Embrace Learning and Improving Your Craft

The journey to your future self is paved with learning and growth. ​Dedicate time to learning​ new writing skills. Embrace new writing exercises, genres, or techniques. Your future self is a more skilled writer because they weren’t afraid to experiment and learn.

5. Reflect and Revise Regularly

Growth is all about change, and so are your writing goals. Keep checking in with yourself. Celebrate those big wins (and the little ones too)! If your future self is nudging you towards a new genre or media, go for it! Be flexible enough to accommodate these evolving goals.

Conclusion

Applying the Future You concept to your writing isn’t just about ticking off goals. It’s about aligning your everyday hustle with where you want to be down the road. It’s about being bold, learning, and evolving. Remember, the amazing writer you’ll be tomorrow is taking shape with every word you write today.


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Eight Simple Things You Can do to Get Ready for the New Year

Eight Simple Things You Can do to Get Ready for the New Year

There are just a few days left before Christmas and right now everybody is busy. In contrast, the week between Christmas and New Year’s always feels slow after the frenetic build up to Christmas. I like to use this week to prepare for the new year.

Here are eight simple things you can do to set yourself up for success in 2024. (Don’t try to do them all. Pick a few that feel the most helpful to you.)

1. Plan your creative projects.

I keep my appointments on my computer calendar, but use an old-fashioned paper planner for my creative projects. I like to pick one that has something positive on the cover. Here is ​this year’s​. It even has stickers!

2024 the year she got everything she wanted

I use my planner for monthly and weekly to do list to keep me on target with my creative projects.

  • Make a list of the projects you want to complete this year.
  • Order them by preference or urgency.
  • Assign one or two to each quarter.
  • Put them in your planner with beginning and end dates.
  • Then chunk down each project into 5 – 10 steps and put those steps in your planner.

Now you can start each week, clear on what you have to do to make progress towards completing your projects. This planning will increase your productivity and creativity.

2. Organize your business expenses for taxes.

Create an Excel tax template spreadsheet that lists all of your reoccurring expense categories. If the expense is the same every year like your Linked In membership, put that in too. If you’re feeling ambitious, go ahead and fill out your 2023 details. Here is my ​tax deduction spreadsheet​. I’m sharing it because there may be some things on here, you haven’t thought of. *Disclaimer* This is not tax advice. Please consult a professional.

3. Organize your home office.

Clean off your desk, file those papers, shelve those books, and ​upgrade to an ergonomic desk​.

4. ​Create or update your website.​

​5. Update your LinkedIn profile.​

​6. Write or update your bio.​

​7. Get business cards​.

​8. Read a book on writing craft or business.


Check out my holiday gift guide for writers.

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How to be a Great Podcast Guest

How to be a Great Podcast Guest

I recorded my first guest podcast interview on the Novel Marketing Podcast last week and it dropped yesterday!

Landing the Gig

Just like anything else, there is an art to landing a guest spot on a podcast. The first thing is you have to know and understand the podcast‘s audience. Then pitch a subject to the host that his audience will be interested in. In this instance, I didn’t pitch Thomas Umstattd to be a guest on his podcast; I pitched to be a workshop presenter at his conference, ​The Novel Marketing Conference​, which is going to be this January in Austin, Texas.

He responded that he had all of his guests for the conference. Instead, he invited me to be a guest on ​his podcast​. I’m a big fan and was thrilled!

Let’s Learn About Podcasts

As you know, I’m a very ​enthusiastic person​, so I got excited by this invitation. And then after I said yes, I had a couple of hours of panic because I had never been a guest on a podcast. I’ve led live and Zoom workshops for hundreds of people at a time. I’m not afraid of public speaking and I love teaching. But this was going to be a completely new experience. This podcast has a large audience. I respect Thomas, and I didn’t want to screw it up.

I did what I always do when faced with a new exciting, and sometimes terrifying, opportunity; I went to school. I am planning on a podcast tour for my next book, so I had been filing away bits of information. I also have two great resources that I highly recommend if you are going to be a guest on a podcast.

  1. Thomas’s amazing course, ​How To Get Booked as a Podcast Guest​.
  2. Anna David’s book ​On Good Authority​.

Some of this information may seem obvious. However, I am always surprised by how many people think they can wing it.

Know the Show

Listen to episodes of the show so you know what to expect. You’ll learn what the host’s style is, the rhythm of the show, and if they ask the same questions to all the guests. If they have a standard set of questions, prepare answers ahead of time. This way, you are not caught off guard. I recommend listening to at least five episodes. If you don’t have time or that seems overwhelming, at least listen to two.

Get the Right Equipment

Microphone Your computer microphone that is fine for Zoom calls is not for podcasts. You need a high-quality microphone that provides crisp, professional sound. You know when you listen to podcasts and the guests sound far away? That’s because they’re using their computer microphone. Thomas and other podcasters recommend the ​Samson Q2U​.

Headphones To go with your fancy new microphone you need headphones so you can hear exactly what you sound like as you’re being recorded. These plug directly into your microphone. After a bunch of research, I chose the ​Audio-Technica ATH-M40x​ which worked great.

Camera If your host also records your discussion on video for YouTube, I recommend investing in a good computer camera. I love the ​Lumina​ because it automatically focuses and lights you so that you look fantastic.

This equipment is a bit of an investment, but you want to put your best voice forward. You never know where this opportunity will lead.

Talk to the Host

When you schedule your interview, ask the host what they want you to talk about and who their audience is. For example, I asked how much of the Novel Marketing Podcast’s audience is traditionally published versus indie.

Before the Interview

Follow directions The host will send you a couple of paragraphs on how to be their perfect guest. Read and follow them. This seems really basic, but Thomas said I was one of two people that had ever read and followed his directions. I find that so shocking. Not only is it common courtesy to the host who is doing you a giant favor by having you on his show, it’s also to your benefit. You want to look and sound good for the audience. And you want to be asked back!

Talking Points Write your talking points so you won’t forget them. I like having my notes written even when I’m presenting in person. I rarely refer to them, but knowing they’re there if I get lost makes me more confident. These days lots of people like to have them pulled up on their screen. But I went old school, taping them to my monitor.

Practice Practice what you’re going to say, even if it’s something you’ve talked about a thousand times before. Practice speaking slowly because when we’re nervous, we always speed up. Practice smiling while you talk. It automatically makes you sound warmer, and more interesting. And practice listening. A podcast interview is a conversation. Don’t be so focused on what you’re there to say that you forget to focus on what the host is saying. You want to be able to incorporate a point he just made when it’s your turn to talk.

Be Grateful

Say thank you on the recording at the end of the show. Write the host an e-mail saying thank you again. Include any links you might have mentioned in the show so that the host doesn’t have to go searching for them. If you want to be asked back, include a couple of things you’d like to talk about in your thank you note. (I learned those last two from Thomas.)

And finally share your episode on social media. You want to support the host and his podcast. The best way to do that is to get him more downloads. I have heard from several hosts that guests rarely share their episodes. Don’t be that guy. Extra points if you make a graphic using the podcast’s logo like I did above.


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