Being Bruce -: December 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

To Write, or Not to Write? That's My Question.

[Bruce's note: I posted this question in an author's group earlier this morning. After I put it up, I realized I was missing an opportunity to ask the same important question of people who read this blog. Thanks in advance for any feedback, comments, suggestions.]

OK, so I have a question. If you write lots of books, and I mean like potentially hundreds, does it make more sense to publish them all under one name, or, marketing-wise, is it a better idea to publish under several names?

The concern is either diluting one's impact and credibility or overwhelming one's market.

Background: Marge and I write personal and business development books. Some are 10 Steps to Success books, relatively short, 30-45 page ebooks on a specific topic. Others are 31 Days Mastery books, which include coaching suggestions and homework, these run 135-150 pages as ebooks. We publish all our titles now on Kindle, and that's working for us.

Here's another part of our particular puzzle - we LOVE to write these books. No joke, we sometimes get giggly while we're working on them together because we enjoy it and have so much fun. Plus we also write from the heart based on our own experiences in personal development and in self-owned business ventures. So, in our minds, these are important books, even the short ones, for us to get out.

And we also want to make money writing them. We make some now, for which we're entirely grateful. And we'd like to make more, preferably a lot more. As we were working on our lists of topics for the coming year, which turned out to be a boatload of titles, one of our friends and trusted advisors threw up a big caution, saying we should focus on definable subject areas and not put out too many titles. His argument is our market will not value such a large number of books from plain ole us (well, he didn't say it exactly that way).

So our trusted advisor had two suggestions:

1. If we insist on writing so many titles, start developing new brands and using different author names for different subject areas - that way we could specialize with each, and strengthen the individual brands.

2. That we focus at least 50% of our effort on marketing and not so much on writing additional books. He didn't say stop writing, but to make a significant shift toward more effective marketing (including speaking, radio, blogging, that kind of thing).

So we enjoy speaking, radio, etc., but we REALLY DIG WRITING our books.

My thought is we ourselves are our own brand. That's clearly ego-centric, but I also think it's true of all of us writer types, or certainly can be.

So I guess my LONG question, boils down to this:

Our friend and advisor has suggested we allocate 50% time to writing new books and 50% to marketing, on a consistent, structured plan for each. I'm OK with a structured plan for writing, and am working on a structure for marketing (which to date comes in flurries, mostly, at least for most of our titles) - but I'd personally be happier with about 80% writing and 20% marketing.

Given our preferences and proclivities, what do you guys think? Any input is appreciated. This is a serious question for us. And, possibly, maybe except for fiction writers, one which others here share in part.

Thanks in advance, Bruce

Monday, December 17, 2012

Enjoying Birthdays Like Never Before!

Saturday was my birthday and I had a blast! Marge and I had fun talking with our children and grandchildren on the phone and we had some very special meals. Because it was the weekend we spread the celebration over two days!

We also spent time with our local Team Beachbody Coaches, first at a meeting Saturday morning and then painting our new team office and training center in Wilmington. So that was a load of fun.

Facebook added a whole other element to my birthday observance and for me it's a highlight of my year in social media. I totally LOVE hearing from people from my past and current life and really enjoy writing to everyone who pops up with a birthday wish.

This year I had more than 400 people wish me happy birthday on Facebook, staring first with folks from Turkey, Sweden, Germany, and Japan and then later the United States. It was great fun to see the messages, graphics, videos, and photos show up on my Timeline.

Starting on Sunday morning I commenced to write answers. I wrote a stock thank you for folks I don't really know all that well, and in it I included a link to a free download to our latest book (it's in launch promotion through Tuesday after which it will no longer be free, so the timing was right - hint: do you think that was coincidence?).

For people I know better, I included a line or two that was more personal. I had a note from Janet Ramsey who I met in 1955 when we were both 8 years old living across the street from each other in Windsor Locks, Connecticut and one from a guy I had coffee with for the first time just last week. I love the range. During the weekend I also had multiple interchanges with people ranging from Shelley Sweeney in Japan, Jane Gudge in Andalusia, Maria Montgomery in South Africa, and Jenny Lundell in Sweden, plus many more from people in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and of course the U.K.


No one sent me this video this year, but this is the one I send on Facebook to others on their birthday.

I wish you the best of the season and an especially great day on YOUR birthday.

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Bucket List Homework Assignment

OK, so I attended a Reggie Shropshire seminar this week. It was about making 2013 the most rockin' year ever with a full-tilt business plan (not exactly the title).

I figured, hey, I might pick up some good tidbits at the course and meet some fun folks plus I like Reggie so that would be cool, too.

I didn't know he was gonna deluge us with an outpouring of useful tips, techniques, tools, and strategies for building a business systematically according to plan. Whoa. Loads of stuff.

But guess where he started? With a bucket list. He gave us a link to some general tips for writing a bucket list plus access to a list of 535 possible items - just to prime the bucket list pump, as it were.

Well I've never done a bucket list before. No time like the present, so here I go - but I'll consider it a work-in-progress to add to later on.

(Process note: I'm going to start with Reggie's categorized sample topics and then take off from there, so it may be organized in the beginning, but I'm not pledging to stick to anything resembling organization.)

1. Take horseback riding lessons
2. Get new rollerblades and become a power blader
3. Learn how to waterski on one ski
4. Earn two belts above "no belt" in Akido
5. Become fluent in French and Spanish
6. Become fluent in Esperanto and Ito
7. Take drum, bass, piano, and guitar lessons.
8. Set up my own recording studio and record music with family and friends for fun
9. Get certified as a Zumba instructor
10. Take Argentine Tango lessons with Marge
11. Take Carolina Shag, Texas Two-Step, or California Swing lessons with Marge
12. Ride cross country with one or both of my sons on motorcycles
13. Visit the Galapagos with Marge
14. Live in Cuenca, Ecuador for 3 months with Marge
15. Live in Brittany for 3 months with Marge
16. Live in Cornwall for 3 months with Marge
17. Live in Uruguay for 3 months with Marge
18. Play soccer with my daughter and her kids
19. Visit Ireland, Paris, Greece, Istanbul, and Iceland with Marge
20. Take a river cruise across western Europe with Marge
21. Live in Costa del Sol for 3 months with Marge
22. Spend a week in Paris with at least 4 hours a day in the Louvre
23. Regularly attend Tony Robbins, Bob Proctor, Jack Canfied, and David Neagle's events (1 each per year for each)
24. Spend a week on Richard Branson's island with other entrepreneurs (and RB, of course)
25. Set up a giving foundation that focuses on 10 defined charitable organizations.
26. Found a nonprofit that works with churches to promote wellness through exercise and nutrition
27. Celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary at the Harbor View in Edgartown with the whole family for a week.
28. Have homes in Portland, Maine and Wilmington, NC.
29. Build a list of 100 people I've helped become millionaires and 1,000 people I've helped become successful, self-supporting entrepreneurs.
30. Have a succession of Schnauzers, always at least one.
31. Live one day longer than Marge
32. In home gym, meditation area, recording/video studio, and kick-ass office/library combo.
33. Great working kitchen with adjacent open dining area to seat 10-16
34. Take all grandkids to see the Rockettes at Christmas.

OK, so that's what I've got so far.

I Make Money Taking My Clothes Off - You Can, Too!

No, I'm not a stripper, and I'm not hiring strippers.

However, I did learn this week that I'm the male November Beachbody Challenge winner in the 50+ age group. As part of the Beachbody Challenge entry submission process I had to submit before and after photos. Here's what I sent:

By winning the monthly prize I'm getting a check for $1,000 and will also be in a quarterly vote where I'll compete with 24 people for a $5,000 prize and in an annual vote for a grand prize of $100,000. So wish me luck.

But you know what? It's not really about the money. The first important factor here is I took control of my fitness and health (I also got off cholesterol drugs in the process). And here's the second big deal about this for me: you can do it, too!

Every day someone wins $500 from Beachbody from entries by customers and Coaches in the Beachody Challenge. Each month there are 8 $1,000 winners. Besides the money though (and yeah, you can believe it, that when the check arrives I will definitely cash it), but besides the money the greatest gain we get from the Beachbody Challenge is improved fitness, better weight management through exercise, nutrition, and support, better health overall, and a big boost in self-esteem that we're taking care of ourselves (as we knew we should all along).

So consider it. Are you ready to get fit and healthy? Is it finally time for you to take charge and take control? I'd love to work with you if you are, just give me a shout or check me out at

And, if you'd like to make some money taking of your clothes (or most of them anyway), let's help you to your own fitness transformation and get a great set of before and after photos and a winning story to go with it.

One way to go down this path is being part of a Beachbody Challenge Group. I'm running a P90X Challenge Group (which is the exercise program I use) that's open to everyone starting January 7, 2013. For more details check out my Facebook page:

Lets's get fit, get healthy, and, if you're up for it, let's make money!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Why We Still Write

Marge and I continue to write books, even though our primary focus is helping people achieve their physical and financial goals through Team Beachbody. A few people have asked us why we keep on writing and publishing books when we are so clearly committed to Beachbody. We even asked ourselves that a while back when we resumed more concentrated effort on writing and publishing when our list of Team Beachbody customers and Coaches was growing.

The answer is clear to us, "We write because we must." That may sound odd, or self-agrandizing, but it's part of our truth as individuals and as a couple.

We love to write - it's just part of who we are, as much as our love of reading. We are book people. We're also word people which is pretty clear a message that gets across as Marge's "31 Days to Improve Your Vocabulary" is the best seller among our 20-odd titles published on Amazon month after month. So not writing would be against our nature. We're not big letter writers, as our family and friends can attest, so the two best outlets for our writing are books and our blogs. (Check  out Being Marge Brown to read Marge's blog.)

We are also students of personal development. The first personal development seminar we ever attended was a two-weekend event called "Adventures in Attitudes" run in the February 1973 by our very close friend Ray Smith. Since that initial exposure we've taken many seminars, attended workshops, read books, heard speakers live, recorded, and online, and for the past few years we've written our own books about personal and business development topics. So, in just a few months we'll be celebrating 40 years in the study of personal development - it only seems natural that we should give back for all we've gained.

Marge and I talk often of ways we can help people and how we can make positive impact even on folks we never meet in person. Blogging and social media are wonderful ways to connect, share, and, in some instances, even inspire people around the globe. But you know, there are some messages, some content that you just can't fit into a 140 character Tweet, a Facebook post, a 3-minute Youtube video, or even a 1,000 word blog post. (Conventional advice is that no blog post should be more than two or three paragraphs long - of course I regularly ignore that.)

So we write books. We have published more than 30 books during the past four years. All have been on Amazon but we've taken some down, either because we've written new editions, we've rewritten a longer and hopefully better version and used a new title, or because the time has passed for a few of the titles. We actually have a huge list of titles we want to write (I won't define 'huge' here because the number would seem silly). Someday we may write most if not all of them, but surely the list will grow as we continue to learn and grow ourselves and decide that perhaps, we, too, have something to share.

Once in a while one of us will say, "OK, that's it. I'm done writing books. It's too much work, it takes too much time, and there are so many other things I want to do."

Quitting usually lasts about two weeks max till one of us wakes up and states, "Here's a book I've got to write." Sometimes the idea comes in the shower so the announcement is hollered, but my point here is that we do not resist. When the concept for a new book strikes us, if we both give it the nod, then it becomes a work in progress.

Sometimes only a few weeks pass between inspiration and publication - the removal of traditional barriers by ebook publishing on Amazon are wonderful. More typically the idea will join the list while one or both of us thinks about it for a while and then within six months or so we'll get down to it and write the book.

For our shorter, 10 Steps to Success books, usually the actually writing to publication timeline takes only a week or two, even though the original idea may have appeared a year or more in the past. Three recent examples are Improve Your Positivity - 10 Steps to Success, Improve Your Leadership - 10 Steps to Success, and Attraction Marketing - 10 Steps to Success. Actually the Attraction Marketing book was going to be a 31 Days to Mastery book but we decided we wanted to think and work on the concept some more to develop more content. So we finished and published the shorter version as a 10 Steps book.

The latest book I'm focusing on personally, 31 Days to Facebook Marketing Mastery, was originally going to focus more broadly on social media as a whole. I started outlining it in 2007. After several false starts, and project-shelving, it's coming out this month (within days of this writing) and I'm pretty happy about how it's shaping up. In no way am I a Facebook expert, nor to I aspire or wish to become a Facebook trainer or consultant, but along the way I've learned and observed a goodly list of strategies, tools, and techniques that appear to help others as well as me market via Facebook. So the book has to emerge - that's how it feels to us.

Chances are you weren't really asking yourself the question about why Marge and I still write books, but if you've read this far, whether you wondered or not, you know the answer. Thanks for reading.