Sunday, April 26, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide by Mark Coker

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

Learn how to market any book. This popular book marketing primer has helped over 100,000 authors and publishers dramatically improve their book marketing results.

The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide contains practical, easy-to-implement advice on how to market any book. 41 simple, do-it-yourself marketing tips explain not what you can do to market your book, but also explain the context and thinking behind each recommendation. The marketing techniques apply equally well to both ebooks and print books.


The Kindle format of this book is free.  In print format, it would only be 52 pages, so it can easily be read in about an hour or so. It's definitely a marketing tool for the company Smashwords, but it also has lots of good book marketing tips for authors.  Coker covers topics like: "How to reach readers with Twitter," "Organize a blog tour" and "Join LinkedIn, post links to your books."  If you're a newly published author and/or overwhelmed by 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer (which is 704 pages),  The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide is an easy place to start. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Getting to 50/50 by Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober are professionals, wives, and mothers. They understand the challenges and rewards of two-career households. They also know that families thrive not in spite of working mothers but because of them. You can have a great career, a great marriage, and be a great mother. The key is tapping into your best resource and most powerful ally—the man you married.

After interviewing hundreds of parents and employers, surveying more than a thousand working mothers, and combing through the latest government and social science research, the authors have discovered that kids, husbands, and wives all reap huge benefits when couples commit to share equally as breadwinners and caregivers. Mothers work without guilt, fathers bond with their kids, and children blossom with the attention of two involved parents.

From “baby boot camp” for new dads to exactly what to say when negotiating a leave with the boss, this savvy book offers fresh ideas to today’s families offering encouragement, hope, and confidence to any woman who has ever questioned her choices regarding work and family.

Winner of the Independent Publisher Award Gold Medal in Parenting


As a working mother, I feel like I am supposed to love this book.  I did like it, and I enjoyed reading some of the statistics and encouragement for working women, but I'll be honest that I found it a bit dull.

The title of the book is "Getting to 50/50" and on the cover it states "How working couples can have it all by sharing it all and why it's great for your marriage, your career, your kids and you."  There are three parts to the book:

Part 1 -- The Good News About Work: Why Two Careers Are Better Than One
Part 2 -- Three Truths to Bust the Myths About Work, Women and Men
Part 3 -- The 50/50 Solution and How to Make It Yours

I found the first part fascinating.  It is full of studies and data about why a woman staying home with her children is not necessarily the best thing for the children or her marriage and how one of the most important factors in a child's development is actually the father's involvement (whether or not the mother works outside the home).

The second part is where I started to lose interest. It started to feel a little whiny to me about how women with children are so persecuted in the workplace.  I think that's because I personally couldn't identify with many of the examples, although that's actually part of the point -- I probably do experience some of the things the authors describe and I'm just not paying close enough attention.

I was hoping the third part would be a good conclusion, but I found it more tailored to brand new working mothers.

I like that the authors make women think about their own part in the responsibility of the 50/50 split (i.e. communicate with your partner about sharing the responsibilities, don't expect him to read your mind and allow him to do things his way).  However, I do think the authors missed an important piece of the whole thing -- i.e. "what happens when your husband is not on board with the 50/50 mentality?"

Overall, I think the book is good.  I would recommend it more for newer working mothers who are just starting to navigate this new world of balancing family and career.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

There is a competitive advantage out there, arguably more powerful than any other. Is it superior strategy? Faster innovation? Smarter employees? No, New York Times best-selling author, Patrick Lencioni, argues that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre ones has little to do with what they know and how smart they are and more to do with how healthy they are. In this book, Lencioni brings together his vast experience and many of the themes cultivated in his other best-selling books and delivers a first: a cohesive and comprehensive exploration of the unique advantage organizational health provides.

Simply put, an organization is healthy when it is whole, consistent and complete, when its management, operations and culture are unified. Healthy organizations outperform their counterparts, are free of politics and confusion and provide an environment where star performers never want to leave. Lencioni’s first non-fiction book provides leaders with a groundbreaking, approachable model for achieving organizational health—complete with stories, tips and anecdotes from his experiences consulting to some of the nation’s leading organizations. In this age of informational ubiquity and nano-second change, it is no longer enough to build a competitive advantage based on intelligence alone. The Advantage provides a foundational construct for conducting business in a new way—one that maximizes human potential and aligns the organization around a common set of principles.


My first experience with Lencioni was The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family, an audiobook I think I got for free on Audible.  It was a fable and I thought it might be cheesy, but it wasn't.  It was very thought-provoking and practical.  I listened to it last year and have been meaning to listen to it a second time so I could try to absorb more of it and write a review.

In the meantime, I came across The Advantage, Lencioni's first book that was not a fable.  I figured it was worth reading, and it was.  In The Advantage, Lencioni makes a case for the importance of "organizational health," which is often ignored by organizational leaders.

"An organization has integrity, is healthy, when it is whole, consistent and complete.  That is, when its management, operations, strategy and culture fit together and make sense."

Lencioni walks the reader through six critical questions for organizational health and the practical steps that a leader must take in order to create and maintain a healthy organization.  I highly recommend this book for anyone who is a leader/manager in any organization (church, business, non-profit).

Thursday, April 16, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't) by Betty White

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

The New York Times bestseller from the beloved actress who's made us laugh on shows from The Mary Tyler Moore Show to Saturday Night Live! In this candid take on everything from the unglamorous reality behind red-carpet affairs to her beauty regimen ("I have no idea what color my hair is, and I never intend to find out"), Betty White shares her observations about life, celebrity, and love (for humans and animals). Filled with photos, If You Ask Me is funny, sweet, and straight to the point-just like Betty.


I've never seen Hot in Cleveland, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show was before my time, but I remember Betty White's ditzy character "Rose" in the Golden Girls.  I remember thinking she was old then, but that show ended nearly 25 years ago and she's still going strong!  She was 89 when she wrote this book.  Now she's 93 and still filming Hot in Cleveland!

I don't know how anyone could not love Betty White.  Even if you haven't seen her shows, it's fun to hear* her talk about her experiences in Hollywood (where she has worked in a variety of roles over a period of about 70 years!) and her love of animals.  If You Ask Me is lighthearted and funny.  I recommend it if you are a Betty White fan.

* NOTE: I "read" the audiobook format.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

A guy walks into a bar car and...

From here the story could take many turns. When the guy is David Sedaris, the possibilities are endless, but the result is always the same: he will both delight you with twists of humor and intelligence and leave you deeply moved.

Sedaris remembers his father's dinnertime attire (shirtsleeves and underpants), his first colonoscopy (remarkably pleasant), and the time he considered buying the skeleton of a murdered Pygmy. The common thread? Sedaris masterfully turns each essay into a love story: how it feels to be in a relationship where one loves and is loved over many years, what it means to be part of a family, and how it's possible, through all of life's absurdities, to grow to love oneself.

With LET'S EXPLORE DIABETES WITH OWLS, David Sedaris shows once again why he is widely considered the "the funniest writer in America" (O, the Oprah Magazine).


I've never read anything else by David Sedaris, so I don't have anything with which to compare this book.  It's a collections of essays and there's no overall theme throughout the book.  I'm not sure if that's typical for Sedaris or if this one was different from his other books.  It definitely made me laugh out loud in some places and certainly made me want to read more from Sedaris.

If you like humor books, I would recommend this one.