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“Apple and E-Books”

July 11th, 2013 | Posted by Sara in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Based on an April 2013 lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice, a New York federal judge has found Apple colluded with major book publishers to inflate the price of e-books.   The Department of Justice asserted Apple acted as a hub in and “hub-and spoke” conspiracy to move the book industry from a wholesale model dominated by Amazon to an agency model where companies such as Apple would take a commission on book sales.      On Wednesday a judge said DOJ showed the publishers conspired with each other to eliminate retail price competition to raise e-book prices and Apple played a significant role.    Ways in which they conspired included: 1. Taking control of ebook pricing and moving the price point above $9.99 by acting as a group against Amazon. 2. Delaying release or “withholding” the ebook version of a new release.

The partners agreed that Apple would sell books and take a 30 percent commission.  Apple would make a profit.  The Judge asserted this was raising price caps and moving e-tailers to an agency model.  The Judge rejected an argument that Apple should be applauded because of their practices’ beneficial impact on the e-book market.  Instead saying it violated The Sherman Act and they failed to show agreements with pro-competitive effects.      The case now moves to a penalty phase.

Stay tuned.

Yesterday I read a great article about book publicity.   Every day I hear an author say “Ellen” or “Katie” would love my book.   I am always positive but sometimes the chances of this are very slim.   In How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn, Penn gives realistic and eye-opening advice.
First, she asserts getting a traditional book deal will include publicity.  The days of a publishing house having a publicity budget are over unless you are an author with a platform or a major celebrity.  If you think about this in a realistic way, it makes sense.  In my opinion, independent publishing has achieved two things:   One, it has opened publishing to everyone.  It used to be a closed world but now anyone with a story and some money to spend can publish a book.  Second,  it has made publishing a book less impressive.  If the publishing world is more open, then the chances of getting signings or events are less as well.
Penn also asserts authors can do their own marketing.  I agree that the author is the best person to tell their story if they can write in a creative way and write for the media.  However, the author must be able to deal with rejection!
The most important myth is number three.  A publicist will be able to get an author on a specific show.  She asserts a publicist can pitch shows but they can only work with what the author provides.  We all need to think like the media.  These are your “hooks.”
Another interesting point is authors think media will sell books.  What media does is raise awareness however a publicist cannot make the audience buy the book.
I highly recommend Penn’s book How to Market a Book.   Also,  authors need to keep her tips in mind but also they need to be realistic about their goals for the next 6 months to a year.  Your book may be good enough to be a bestseller but also keep in mind what you need to work on before finding a publicist:
1.     An intriguing story.
2.    Hiring a great, honest editor.
3.    Having a designer who will create a product that looks and feels like a bestseller.
4.    Make sure you have a website, and social media before you launch any PR or marketing efforts.
5.    Finally, think about what you wish to tell the media.  Watch the news and think about how you fit into their objectives.  Remember, they will not change for you.  You must fit your topic into their target audience.

Away for a week

June 27th, 2013 | Posted by Sara in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

I will be away from my blog next week.  I’ll resume blogging on July 9.


“Pride Week in Minneapolis”

June 27th, 2013 | Posted by Sara in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

After Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling invalidating a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act, married same-sex couples will be eligible for the same federal benefits as heterosexual married couples.
Wonderful news!
This decision coincidentally comes during Pride Week in Minneapolis.  This weekend, June 29-30, Loring Park will host the Twin Cities Pride Festival.  There will be a parade, vendors and a new wedding showcase.   As of August 1, gay couples in Minnesota can wed legally.
The Wedding Showcase will be an exciting, first-ever event with wedding vendors, a flower display and a a flash mob.  Fabulous Function owner Julie Lyford and Master of Ceremonies and Wedding Entertainer Bill Hermann are sponsors as well as Lavender Magazine.
Go to https://www.tcpride.org for more information.
On the same subject,  a wonderfully creative and humorous book is Retrieving Isaac & Jason by Elliott and Kenneth Flies.  The story is about the adoption journey of Elliott and his partner Randy.  They are a same-sex couple who adopted their sons from south-east Asia.  The story is written from the perspective of their dog, Kai, a yellow lab retriever.
The book gives insight into adoption laws and the struggles to become a family.
Go to www.RetrievingIsaacandJason.com for more information.


“Paula’s Bad Week”

June 25th, 2013 | Posted by Sara in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

     First, let me say the Lady makes great macaroni and cheese!

     OK, now that I have that out of my system … let’s move on.

     Paula Deen is having a bad day, week, and month.  After a deposition where she admitted to uttering the n-word and using racial epithets, Deen was let go from The Food Network and Smithfield.  QVC is monitoring the situation. 

     The situation continues to get worse for Deen.  As a public relations professional, my opinion is crisis management is all about honestly. I think the entire situation could have been avoided if she came out and told her story.  The following are ways in which I would handle Deen’s situation. 

1.        Always, always be honest.  Take a tip from Tylenol.  When they discovered people were being poisoned, they came out and were honest about the situation.  They also created child-proof caps. In Deen’s situation, she should come out ahead of the story.  Tell your sponsors what you are going through and develop a consistent message detailing what you will say and what you will not.

2.       Do not cancel media.  One, they will not want to have you back.  You need to be honest with them in the good times and the bad.  Two, you become a story.   Lauer mentioned the cancellation on-air and as a result, in my opinion, contributed to her firing.

3.       Limit how much social media you use when in crisis.  This is a very controversial opinion but I think when in crisis there should be one message coming from one source.  If one release a message on Facebook, twitter, YouTube and in a press release, and all the messages are different, then each has different interpretation.   Pick a format and stick with it.

4.       Make your message short and clear.  Deen was clearly out of sorts, tired and came off very vulnerable in her YouTube messages.   We are all human and have bad days.  When you have those issues, take a breath and release a statement when you have clearly thought of your position.

5.       Lastly, take a break.  Get your house in order and come back stronger in the next 6 months to a year.   Americans have very, very short memories.  Our country is filled with major comebacks: Robert Downey, Jr., Roman Polanski, and even President Bill Clinton.

See you next week! 

Although I blog every week about pop culture topics and other issues that interest me, my primary focus with my company is promoting authors.
I love reading and working with creative people.   Yesterday I was surprised to hear Amazon’s Associate Program will no longer be available to residents of Minnesota.
The Associate program is a source of supplemental income for bloggers and web site owners.  They advertise books and other products sold by Amazon.  The products are related to the content of the web site.  It’s a program many authors use.
As of June 30, Minnesotans will no longer have access to the program.
Why?  Amazon asserts they are opposed to being required to collect sales taxes from Minnesota residents.
What is shocking about this is America’s highest court, the United States Supreme Court found in Quill v. North Dakota that companies are only required to collect sales tax in the states where they maintain a physical domicile.  Amazon does not have any physical locations in Minnesota.
As a result, by implementing the online sales tax/ solicitor nexus law, the state is circumventing the Supreme Court to obtain more money for the state.
Hopefully this situation will be resolved.

Every day I have two or three app I use.  They are go-to apps that make my life easier, others are where I receive my news and a few are just for fun.   

     Apps that make my life easier:  They help with weight loss, sleep and relaxation.

1.       Weight Watchers-I can’t say enough about this app.  It changed my life.  It helped me understand food and what is healthy. 

2.       Sleep Pillow-If I can’t sleep I turn on this app and I can hear birds, streams, thunderstorms or spa music.  I’m asleep in an instant.

3.       Hotel Tonight-If you need to find a hotel quickly, this app is the best.  They negotiate with hotels in your local area to get the best deals.

  News apps:  

1.       USA Today-Don’t ask me how they do it but this app is free and updated hourly.  I don’t need to actual paper and it is better than the newspaper because they have the latest information.

2.       TMZ-If I need a gossip update I go to TMZ.  Sometimes the stories are about obscure celebrities but sometimes they break major news like the death of Michael Jackson.

3.       AWS-This stands for All Women Stalk.  I discovered it a few months ago and am addicted.  It is basically lists of everything.  If one wants to know how to use coconut oil or how the best summer reads-just search and a list will pop up.

4.       Zite-This app is a newsroom.  One can list a topic and the app will search for stories having to do with that topic.

Other apps:

1.       Kindle-Download this for free on any ipad/iphone and read anything, anywhere.

2.       Urban Spoon-An app for finding the best local restaurants.

3.       Pandora-A free streaming music site.

4.       TiVo-Record a show from anywhere in your home with this app.

5.       Any library app-your local area library will have a free app to put any book on hold.

6.       Flixster-Find reviews for any movie in your area.

7.       Pop Sugar-News stories about topics such as Beauty, Celebrities, Fashion, Food and Home

8.       EW Must List- A list of Entertainment Weekly’s top 10 popular culture programs.

9.       Fast Food-Get listings of calorie counts for every popular fast food chain.

10.   Book Wall-a new app for me.  One can choose categories and get a new book you will love.

“My Weight Loss Journey Part II”

June 13th, 2013 | Posted by Sara in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

I’m going to continue my weight loss conversation today and I’m focusing on the mental aspect.   When I decided to lose weight, I knew I needed to do it to be healthy.  What took me by surprise was the mental aspect of weight loss.
People started to stare and comment every time I saw them.   Anyone who knew me before the weight loss commented immediately.   I’m fine with them commenting but it is very surprising because our culture is very weight conscious.  No matter how many times one hears about beauty being on the inside, the comments after weight loss are always about looks.
Weight loss affects a person in other ways as well.  It changes how a person feels about themselves or even sees themselves.  For example, I was always heavy.  I’m sure my heaviest tipped the scales at 230/240.  It was a struggle every day to see myself in a positive way but I forged ahead.
After weight loss people see you as a thin person who seems to have all the answers.  The best way to lose weight, the best clothes to buy or even the best makeup and hair products.
Here is the secret:  We don’t know any better than anyone else.  We are really just trying to figure out who we are and how to deal with the new body.   Sometimes I would sit down and think, “How do I not lose who I was before?”
Weight loss is an interesting experience.  It is filled with emotion, physical endurance, willpower and sometimes a lot of guilt.
We will come out with confidence and self-esteem!


“My Weight Loss Journey”

June 12th, 2013 | Posted by Sara in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

On April 21, 2012, my life changed.  
That was the day I hit rock bottom.  I needed to lose weight.   I remember the exact moment.  I was at a friend’s wedding and at the reception couples were dancing with their friends, husbands and wives.   Guests old and young were in the arms of the man or woman they loved.
I was a wall flower and could not wait to go home.
I was embarrassed and thought everyone was looking at me and thinking, “What is wrong with her?”
I was thinking that myself but a stronger voice came through.   It said, “I am tired of being on the outside looking in.  I deserve love and will work to get it.”
The next day my sister and I went on a cruise.   That voice and feeling came back.  I did not have anyone to dance with or go see a show.
I was lonely.
I came home and started to lose weight to improve my self esteem.
I joined a weight loss program and started to exercise.
As of yesterday, I have lost 53 pounds and am engaged to be married.  We can all lose weight and change our lives.
Here is what I learned and how I did it.
1.    I decided this was not a diet.  I repeat this is not a diet.   This is truly a lifestyle change.
Now, I love to eat.   I was raised with meat and potatoes, dessert every night and 2 percent milk.  My grandmother cooked from scratch with real sugar, salt and fat.
I needed to change my attitude toward food.   I learned to eat fruits and vegetables as well as how to read nutrition information.
2.    I learned how many calories I needed in a day.   In the past, I had no idea.  I’m sure I was eating 2-4,000 calories per day.  Now, I know I need 1600 to 2,000 to be at a healthy weight.
3.    Do it to be healthy.  Do not do it to get married, get a better job, or to buy better clothing.  They are all by-products of weight loss but do it because it feels good to be healthy.
4.    Track your food.  Every day I track everything I eat.  Even if I fall off the wagon.
5.    Make exercise your routine.   I work out at least 5 times per week for 30 minutes.  I also use weights when I work out.
6.    Find foods that fill you up without high calorie content.  Examples include: almond milk, egg whites, bananas, mushrooms, salmon.
7.    Cut out soda.  I still love diet Coke but my secret to weaning yourself off soda is club soda.  It has no calories and all the fizz of soda.
My weight loss journey will last a lifetime.  I have confidence in how I look and feel but the most important thing I have learned from this journey is to know what is healthy for you and that everyone can lose weight if they follow a routine.
Below are my before and after pictures:



LPR 018

After with my fiance.

Stable photo

Little Girl Lost

June 6th, 2013 | Posted by Sara in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

Hollywood eats their young and forgets their old.  
In my opinion, this is a very true statement.   Through the years many celebrities have fallen victim to this statement:  From Drew Barrymore to Marilyn Monroe to Judy Garland.   Stars have very high highs and even lower lows.   They may be Academy-Award winning actors one day and the next they are on the cover of tabloids for bankruptcy, drug overdoses or divorces.
Many stars overcome these issues.  Drew Barrymore is a wonderful example of a person being able to overcome her family history of drug and alcohol abuse as well as self-destructive behavior.   She is a new mom, wife and a prolific producer and director.
Other stars were victims of the Hollywood system.  Stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland died too soon and we lost their enormous talents.   They fell victim to the expectations placed on them when in the limelight.  No one is perfect and we want our stars to be perfect.
Yesterday the gossip sites and several TV shows were discussing Paris Jackson.  Many are saying she attempted suicide.  This is 15-year-old girl.  She lost the only parent she knew in her father, Michael Jackson.  She is reconnecting with her mother and getting used to being in the limelight.
This young girl has the weight of the world on her shoulders.   She needs someone to talk with and she needs to be out of the limelight.
Maybe Michael had the right idea when he put masks on his kids when they went out in public.
I wish Paris well and I know she will overcome her troubles.