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Designated Editor Writes a Book | Retreat Weekend

Book retreat weekend Designated Editor

Book writing goes much faster without distractions and some plush surroundings.

Book Writing Requires Retreat Weekend

Room 202 was a second attempt at the ideal sanctuary to remove distractions and stimulate my book writing. With a sliver of a Bay view, the fireplace blazing, and light streaming in the room’s four windows, it’s nearly everything I was looking for.

I knew I had to get away, despite all that needed to be done at the farmhouse.

Hurricane Sandy had created quite a stick harvest – tree debris strewn everywhere – not to mention the house’s 43 windows still need to be cleaned.

And the daylight shining in spotlighted where the floors had accumulated dust, grass clippings, spider webbings, and more.

For sure my husband was going to guilt me about getting away, especially since the roof of the big barn looked like a giant had peeled a big hole back from the tin roof, just like we used to poke a hole in the bottoms of the chocolates when the Valentine’s box didn’t come with a map. No treats inside the barn, Sandy, but thanks for the big hole in the roof. Instead, Bob’s parting words before closing the side door and heading off to work: “Happy writing!”

Instead, the deal I had found wasn’t available for Friday night. I rearranged my Monday tasks to Saturday morning: graded all the papers, set up next assignments, readings, and announcements for my Event Planning & New Media class. Not quite ready to write one of the 4 chapters I’ve tasked myself with, but at greater ease with the decks fully cleared for the next 2 days.

Considering Writing a Book? Dial into Lisa Tener’s Free Teleseminar on March 19.

Bristol Harbor Inn offers staycation deals in November and December. Bob suggested going someplace more interesting, but 30 minutes from home removes the temptation to explore. I’m here to dive into my book. The Saturday-Sunday night stay rang up to just over $200, with gas fireplace, $50 dining credit, and continental breakfast each day.

Room 202 is in the front of the building with 2 south-facing windows and 2 street-facing. The only change I’d make is more of an easy chair, but the chair I’m in is likely better, less tempting to fall asleep in!

No wifi in the room is also a blessing. Only hardwire, and I do have my laptop, although I’m finding writing on my iPad less work-like.

A few of the secrets from Lisa’s class that have really helped

  • Make the space in your life for your book.
  • Let writing your book be a fun activity, not something you dread.
  • Imagine your readers and how your book will resonate with them, change their lives.

The most surprising aspect so far is how easily it’s coming together, if I create the time and space for it.

And, this experience has transferred to other aspects of my life and business. Most surprising example, getting away while there’s so much work to be done. Fortunately, Bob has become adept at fixing barn roofs; the sticks will be there when I get back and feel like being outside; and I’m spending less than I budgeted and will bring the house cleaners in for an even bigger reward.

Designated Editor Writes a Book | Where to Begin

In my quest to share my insights and expertise in a more structured format, I’m working on a book. But not without help! Lisa Tener’s class is helping to keep me on-target for a first draft in 8 weeks.

See my earlier post on overhauling the Designated Editor brand.

I like to say “Websites age in dog years.” Due to styles, usability preferences, and technology they start to look stale after about 3 years. Or, after 3 years you should be planning a makeover, one of the services Designated Editor provides to clients (shameless plug).

But perhaps the same is true for brands? From when I first launched Designated Editor, 4 years and 2 website designs ago, much has changed. First, when I left The Globe, only newspapers seemed to be headed toward a sinkhole. Now we’ve experienced the Great Recession. While the economy was down, I was filling up on knowledge, starting with SEO and then Social Media, always evolving, but I’m evolving with it.

Part of that evolution is taking my insights and creating a guide to jump-start brands’ new media efforts. The book takes a holistic view of new media, not simply social media. If you’ve been a regular Designated Editor blog reader you’ll find several themes, among them:

  • Search and Social are morphing
  • In-person interactions and social media complement each other
  • Search should be – and is increasing so – about fulfilling user needs

All is not without controversy: Years ago an SEO expert left a comment that challenges my downplay of link-building. Since then search experts know: It’s not about building links but building reputation.

In the Designated Editor brand overhaul, I’m relying on key folks for support, Lisa Tener being first and foremost as I eagerly put my thoughts to paper. If you’re considering writing a book, or completing any major project, here are a few recent tips from Lisa’s workshop that you may find helpful:

Book-writing tips from Lisa Tener

  • Put the book first
  • Beware of new must-dos that may crop up
  • Delegate more
  • Let go of your ego: focus on what you can give, not how others will see it.

Considering Writing a Book? Dial into Lisa Tener’s Free Teleseminar on March 19.

Another tip from a classmate: Don’t get hemmed in by technology. It’s OK to write on your iPhone or iPad and email yourself the document. I write on the sunporch with my iPad, far from my desk, which prohibits interruptions like checking email and answering calls.

Designated Editor Writes a Book | The Beginning

Now an oft-booked speaker and adjunct college professor, my brand is currently undergoing an overhaul. Nowhere is that more apparent than the Designated Editor blog. If you’ve been following along through the past 230 posts, you may appreciate that I usually report on highlights from conferences, presentations, and webinars, such as

While the blog will still offer highlights and digests from events you may have missed, this part of the Designated Editor brand transformation is well overdue. At least monthly, you can expect more thought leadership, sharing my insights on new media.

After 4 years of attending conferences, reading and reviewing social media books for the Designated Editor YouTube channel, plus curating content for two semester-long university courses, there’s much to contribute to the conversation.

But first, and clients who work with Designated Editor know this already, I’m committed to sharing my insights. I realized my proverbial roof was leaking, and sought support to enhance the Designated Editor brand. For the past few months, the team has been working on a new look for the website.

Book Coach Lisa Tener

Book Coach Lisa Tener

And, while I’ve known book coach Lisa Tener for years now, I finally committed to writing a book. As I write this, we’re midway through the 8-week award winning Bring Your Book to Life Program, so I’d like to share some insights.

First, the goal is to have a first draft in 8 weeks, which is aggressive, especially while teaching at Framingham State University. But, Lisa offers a great deal of support. The accountability and check-in systems she integrates into the class are designed to ensure you don’t just let things slide.

More importantly, however, are Lisa’s insights into the industry. As most readers know, I’m steeped in daily newspapers, far different from publishing.

Here are a few highlights from Lisa’s Bring Your Book to Life Program that you can apply to your writing projects and more

It’s OK to have holes

Research, as I often tell my clients, is time-consuming. Best is to get the bulk of writing done and fill in the gaps. It’s so much easier to write while in flow and skip a section or statistic to look up. How many times have you stopped to look something up, then checked email, then Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and where was I 45 minutes ago?

Being disciplined about writing times

Especially if you’re your own boss, it’s easy to get interrupted. Lisa reminds us that completing the first draft is our #1 priority. For me, this means structuring Newport Interactive Marketers events and promotion around the book; meeting with and completing client work outside of book-writing hours; going away on a retreat weekend to ensure I’m where I need to be.

Putting off what doesn’t need to be done

Lisa cites housecleaning as an example. That doesn’t work for me; messy environment means distractions. It does mean letting the Designated Editor site launch sit a bit longer until I have my first draft done and can more fully attend to the launch. It also has social implications; Lisa cites an example of a workshop attendee who found that when she set boundaries with negative people because of her book, it benefited the rest of her life as well.

For now, I’m not as active on my social media platforms as I once was. I was sharing more tips and great reads on LinkedIn and Twitter, but I’ve downshifted to simply interacting with people who are engaging with me. It’s not forever, but a book is. That’s a trade-off I’m willing to accept. And now, at least, Designated Editor blog readers will understand. Maybe I should I tweet it, too, now?

Considering Writing a Book? Dial into Lisa Tener’s Free Teleseminar on March 19.

Curious which crossroads your brand is at and what strategies and tactics are working for you (or not)?

Looking forward to sharing more,

Social Media Bible by Lon Safko | Video Book Review

The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools and Strategies for Business Success, Second Edition – by Lon Safko

The Social Media Bible is a 700-page “encyclopedia”-esque book is best used as a resource where you can pick and choose the sections you would like to read.



  • Target audiences could be better defined for different digital platforms
  • Usability is difficult & descriptions could be better
  • Introduction section in most chapters is excessive
  • Expert interviews do not always relate to their respective chapters

The Social Media Bible, second edition, By Lon Safko

Publication date: October 28, 2010

Bottom Line:  “Cherry-pick” your way through this book.  Case studies are useful for tips but target audiences for different platforms needs to be redefined.

How to Make Money With Social Media | Video Book Review

Monetize your social media efforts with lessons from Jamie Turner and Reshma Shah’s book, How to Make Money With Social Media: An Insider’s Guide on Using New and Emerging Media to Grow Your Business.  In this book, these two marketing professionals give the inside scoop on strategies and tactics to gain value and make money from your social media efforts.

Published on September 20, 2010, Turner and Shah‘s book digs into the various social media platforms and how to utilize each for your business.  It also covers how to create a campaign strategy, how to strengthen your brand, and how to size up your competition. Plus the quick start guides provide a solid 101 for the social media novice.

How to Make Money With Social Media is comprised of 25 chapters divided into 6 sections addressing the various social media platforms.

Sections in How to Make Money With Social Media

  • Social media landscape
  • How to set yourself up for social media success
  • Social media platforms
  • Social media integration
  • Measurement
  • Conclusion

In these chapters, the authors delve into

  • Email Newsletters
  • Content aggregators
  • Wikis
  • Voting
  • Forums
  • Virtual worlds

Turner and Shah’s How to Make Money With Social Media is authoritative and highly engaging.  The text also includes quizzes, such as “are you set up to create circular momentum with your social media campaign?” to further readers’ development.

This book is a solid read for social media experts to novices who would like to grow and develop their business with social media.

How to Make Money With Social Media: An Insider’s Guide on Using New and Emerging Media to Grow Your Business

By Jamie Turner and Reshma Shah

Published September 20, 2010

Best for: Brands considering social media and experts looking for some new idea triggers.