Category Archives: Author Branding

Author Branding MYTHS

People often equate “branding” with “visual brand identity”, but it’s not the same thing. Branding is a much wider term.

Nowadays most authors are researching like crazy to discover the best methods to promote their books. But not every author can relate to why they need a brand, they have a blog and book cover, some social media accounts… done and branded right? Nope!

“My book is the product, and a good book sells itself through word of mouth marketing.”

Before I even get into the myths of author branding let me tell you what author branding is…

Author branding is the image you portray through your writing, your communication with your network and readers, the products you sell, and the visual identity that represents all of that.

Your brand should be seamless and spread across your entire online platform and throughout your business with letterhead, business cards, logo, etc.

There are many things to consider before developing your brand, but we can get into that on another post.

I know how confusing branding can be so my point for this post is to clarify what author branding “is not.”

Check It Out:

MYTH 1

I already have a great brand so I don’t need to do any work.

FACT

Your brand needs constant polishing to keep it shiny. The image you want to send to your readers is what you want to keep up all the time. If you’re the down-to-earth millionaire’s coach, then keep on doing things that will remind people that that is who you are. People are fickle-minded. All of a sudden, they might change their minds just because they can. If a new book enters your niche and catches their attention, you can lose your readers just because they want to try out something new. So keep updating your brand. Making little changes to your platforms look and advertising campaign to make sure that people can still see that you are around and you’re keeping true to their brand.

MYTH 2

I already know my brand. I don’t have to boast about it.

FACT

Brands exist in the mind of consumers. The definition of branding says that it is about your relationship with your readers. It’s not about what you think of yourself. Your brand is about what others think of you. You might think you’re a helpful, friendly author of parenting books, but if you don’t do anything to broadcast that image, people might think otherwise. If you want to establish a strong brand, you need to develop your confidence and go out there and act the way you want to be seen. Get the word out everywhere so you can consistently attract new people.

MYTH 3

I’ll focus on writing a great book instead, then the money will come flowing in.

FACT

There are one too many wonderful books out there that are not getting any downloads on Amazon because of one thing. The authors have failed to create and maintain a strong brand for themselves. At the same time, there are a number of bestselling books on the market that aren’t very good. The truth is that when you create an image of yourself in your readers’ heads, even if your book isn’t that remarkable to begin with, you have far better chances of making good sales.

MYTH 4

Branding is second place to everything else.

FACT

There are three steps in writing a bestseller. One, write first. Two, edit later. And three, market your book all the time, even when your book is not yet written and after your book has already been put out there and making sales. Branding goes right up there with marketing. Branding is the fuel that oils your sales machine. Without the constant interaction with potential customers that is branding, you won’t get any sales. It’s as simple as that.

MYTH 5

Branding is not important these days as it was years ago.

FACT

Branding may be even more important now that the role of the salesman has greatly diminished as people take it upon themselves to research the products they want to buy. So when people are looking for information, having a great brand gets you noticed. The better your branding, the easier it will be for people to follow you.

MYTH 6

Branding is deceptive.

FACT

Branding is about the experience people have with your book. When they feel happy, sad, scared, furious or deceived, that is what your brand is. You cannot deceive your customers because branding is not about what you say. You can say over and over again that you make your readers feel like they’re on top of the world, but if that is not what they feel, then that is not your brand. Your responsibility to your readers is simply to make sure that the message you want to put across resonates with their experience of your book.

MYTH 7

You don’t need branding if you have a unique selling point.

FACT

Your unique selling point wont be unique for long. when others see something that works, they copy it. The only way to stay at the top of the food chain is great branding.

MYTH 8

Branding is similar to sales and marketing.

FACT

Sales is different from marketing and marketing is different from branding.

Sales is a one-sided conversation. Marketing is about what you do to promote your brand.

Branding is about creating an experience for your readers. Without branding, you can’t put your marketing and sales into high gear because you have a half-baked story to tell.

It’s not as big, strong and impactful as the story you have when you have a great brand.

Color Theory 101 for DIY Authors

Color expresses emotion, variations in temperature, it can also invoke reactions from its expression. Red can be angry, wild, danger, love, death. Colors can cause us to think and feel an assortment of things so you want to choose the colors of your designs with care.

Understanding how colors relate to one another and how they are created is the necessary place to begin. Color theory is something every designer and artist must know in order to create aesthetically pleasing designs in the software available to them.

Color theory is fun. Once you know how the colors relate to one another you can start building and designing with your own color palettes. Making those color palettes is fascinating because you can pull colors off of pictures and scenery in life, or you can build your own based on how colors work in relation to each other. Seeing your design grow from these beginnings to completion is remarkably satisfying.

Inside your design software, you will have a color picker and color wheel that you can choose colors from either by sight or by number. Colors by number are called HTML color codes and every color has one, see this table. You do not have to choose a color by its number, but knowing its number is a great way for you to build color palettes for your design projects.

I have a paper color wheel at home that I always refer to and it’s handy to have because I’m hands-on and a visual learner. You might want to get one too to play around with, it’s a great interactive way to learn the concepts of color theory and to start coming up with some artistic ideas of your own.

To purchase a color wheel for use at home you can find them at this link from Amazon.

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 A painter mixes all of their colors beginning with only the three primary colors. Mixing the primary colors will get you secondary colors, and mixing primary and secondary colors will get them tertiary colors. The artist can then add tints tones or shades using black and white to create all of the additional hues they might need.

Your job is to set a scene and appeal to the viewer’s senses by using combinations of the colors found in the first three phases, primary, secondary, and tertiary.

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These are your major colors that, when used correctly, can entice the viewer to investigate further. Rather than choosing a random scene for the cover of your book, which often only serves to confuse your audience, you can begin the layout of your graphic with a strategic color plan that can speak volumes about your book. When done correctly, color has more effect than most subject matter.

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Even with a good starting point, you’ll still typically need variations of hues to create your overall design. And no worries, hues are relatively simple. The following is a simple breakdown of color samples and how to create them.

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Hue: Hue is pretty much synonymous with what we actually mean when we say the word “color.” All of the primary and secondary colors, for instance, are “hues.”

Shade: You may recognize the term “shade” because it’s used quite often to refer to light and dark versions of the same hue. But actually, a shade is technically the color that you get when you add black to any given hue. The various “shades” just refer to how much black you’re adding.

Tint: Tint is the opposite of shade, but people don’t often distinguish between a color’s shade and a color’s tint. You get a different tint when you add white to a specific color. So, a color can have a range of both shades and tints.

Tone (or Saturation): You can also add both white and black to a color to create a tone. Tone and saturation essentially mean the same thing, but most people will use saturation if they’re talking about colors being created for digital images. Tones will be used more often for painting.

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CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key (Black).

CMYK works on a scale of 0 to 100. If C=100, M=100, Y=100, and K=100, you end up with black. But, if all four colors equal 0, you end up with true white.

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RGB color models are designed for electronic displays, including computers.

For computers, RGB is created using scales from 0 to 255. So, black would be R=0, G=0, and B=0. White would be R=255, G=255, and B=255.

When you’re creating color on a computer, your color module will usually list both RGB and CMYK numbers. If you’re designing digital images, RGB is best to use. But remember to design in CYMK for your book covers or they will come out much darker than the original design when they are printed.

Creating Color Schemes

Now that we’ve got all of the basics out of the way, let’s talk about how to actually use this newfound knowledge.

You’ve probably noticed before that some colors look great together and others … just don’t. The colors we choose can help enhance a design, or it can take away from a design.

When you’re figuring out how to design a graphic, it’s important to remember that how we perceive colors depends on the context in which we see them.

Never use black or white as they aren’t true colors and can often blend with the background color of many websites and platforms. You’ll find that a tint of most hues will work just fine as white, and shades of many hues work perfectly to achieve a black appearance.

Color context refers to how we perceive colors as they contrast with another color.

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Analogous structures do not create themes with high contrasting colors, so they’re typically used to create a softer, less contrasting design. For example, you could use an analogous structure to create a color scheme with autumn or spring colors.

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Using a monochromatic scheme allows you to create a color scheme based on various shades and tints of one hue. Although it lacks color contrast, it often ends up looking very clean and polished. It also allows you to easily change the darkness and lightness of your colors.

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Triadic color schemes are great if you want contrast, but they can also seem overpowering if all of your colors are chosen on the same point in a line around the color wheel. To subdue some of your colors in a triadic scheme, you can choose one dominant color and use the others sparingly, or simply subdue the other two colors by choosing a softer tint.

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The complementary color scheme provides the greatest amount of color contrast. Because of this, you should be careful about how you use complementary colors in a scheme.

It’s best to use one color predominantly and use the second color as accents in your design.

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The split-complementary color scheme can be difficult to balance well because unlike analogous or monochromatic color schemes, the colors used all provide contrast (similar to the complementary scheme).

Adobe Color

This free online tool allows you to build color schemes based on the color structures described above. Once you’ve chosen the colors in any scheme, you can copy and paste the HEX or RGB codes into whatever program you’re using.

It also features hundreds of premade color schemes for you to explore and use in your own designs. If you’re an Adobe user, you can easily save your themes to your account.

Once you find the color “themes” of your document, you can open up the preferences and locate the RGB and HEX codes for the colors used.

You can then copy and paste those codes to be used in whatever program you’re using to do your design.

Things to Remember

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I hope this helps you on your DIY journey to amazing author graphics!

Author Graphics: A Crash Course On Color

When it comes to graphic design you want to make the right connection with potential readers. You want to attract them. Your color scheme is crucial, not only in the design of your book cover but also in the design of your author brand. Your book is a part of your brand so the colors you choose say a lot about what you have to offer on a larger perspective – your brand plays a big part in what will keep readers coming back for more.

The mood of your book is reflected through the color scheme you choose for your cover. This tells potential buyers what your book has in store for them. A mistake many DIY authors make in cover design is choosing a picture that describes the theme of their book, but whose colors lack the ability to reflect the mood.

Your brand tells your audience what themes you have to offer as a writer. It sets the stage for all of your books to come. Your brand should complement your books, your style.

You want both the right images and the right mood to market yourself. Understanding the way colors affect the majority of us will help you know exactly what colors will work best for all of your graphics. I’ve listed genres of books most likely to contain certain colors, but you can use all colors, although some will be more dominant.

Here’s a helpful resource with advice you will want to consider while creating graphics that will work for you…

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The psychology of color:

Color speaks to us. Each color ignites an emotional reaction within us. It’s your job to choose the colors that elicit the right emotion in your audience, color speaks for your story louder than you may realize.

It’s been proven in scientific studies that color evokes specific emotions in almost everyone. How our brain perceives what it visualizes is relative to the psychology of color. The way that colors influence our minds is used in marketing to influence our purchasing decisions. The color of your book cover makes the first impact, it sparks a reaction in the potential buyer before they focus in on the image or title. This is your chance to make them look a little closer and not pass you by.

The look of your book is the major influence on a consumer’s buying decision. When it comes to your cover, you will want to get serious. Understanding the psychological impact of the colors you choose is imperative. That decision will make a difference in how many copies you sell or how much attention your marketing attracts.

Check out the following descriptions of how color can affect us. This will be a great help when you start designing.

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Romance – Erotica – Cook Books – Non-Fiction: Red is known to elicit strong emotions in almost everyone. It increases passion and intensity and can also increase appetite.

Horror – Thriller – Mystery: Probably because red is the color of blood, it is related to survival, alertness, and safety. Stop signs, for example, are red for safety purposes. Red is also associated with danger.

Graphic designers know that red is known to increase the heart rate, so they use it in their graphics to attract impulsive shoppers. In marketing, red creates a sense of urgency.

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Self Help – Romance – Nonfiction: Orange is warm and inviting, it stirs a joyful excitement or intrigue and interest. It also stimulates the mind and offers encouragement. Orange encourages viewers to look on the bright side of things. In marketing, orange is used to influence impulsive shoppers because it encourages them to buy.

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Romance – Children’s – Non-Fiction: Yellow can be used in almost any design because it makes people think and grabs their attention. You’ll want to steer clear of using too much yellow because that could cause anxiety. Yellow can also invoke cheerfulness. It represents youthfulness, optimism, and clarity.

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Fantasy – Non-Fiction: Green is a warm color that soothes depression. In marketing, green is associated with wealth. This color represents health and calm, especially new growth. It is also a symbol of fertility.

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Fantasy – Spiritual – Non-Fiction: In marketing, brown is associated with dependability, reliability, and resilience. Brown is a base color in nature and is great for fantasy books and can be used as back-drop color for them as well as spiritual or some non-fiction books.

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Non-Fiction – Spiritual: Blue gives off a sense of confidence and increases productivity. In marketing, most businesses use blue in their brand because it creates a sense of security and trust. It is a calm and safe color that inspires clarity and creativity. Different shades of blue are great for the entrepreneur, and any book cover where its attributes are relative to the theme.

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Fantasy – Erotica – Historical Fiction: Women are drawn to purple, it is the color of creativity, mystery, and regeneration. Purple contains the stability of blue and the energy of red. Purple is not a good color for non-fiction marketing because it can influence too much introspection and can be a distraction.

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You should never use pure white in design because it will blend into the backdrop of webpages. Use different shades of white for a clean look, to express perfection. This color is mainly used as a secondary color to bring attention to a portion of your design hierarchy.

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Just like white, you should never use pure black in your designs for exactly the same reasons. Some webpages and backdrops are pure black, and your design will disappear in them. Lighten your black a bit and mix it with a different color, so at first glance, it will appear to be black but will still stand out on the web.

Black represents a degree of sophistication, mystery, power, and control. Black in your design can also represent a darker nature or negativity.

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When you’re choosing your colors, your last step will be to choose a hue or two that highly contrast with your main color pallet. You can use these colors to highlight areas that you want your viewer to focus on or have their focus drawn to. You can also use these colors with your fonts. In fact, fonts are often used for the same effect, to draw the eye by being large or expressive.

Not all of the reasons you’ve read here should be taken into account when choosing your colors for the cover of your book. What you do want to always keep in mind is the theme of your book and what colors will represent that theme the best while also invoking the right response from potential readers.

For author graphics, you’re wanting to set the right mood to attract attention to whatever you are marketing at that time, a blog post, the release of your book, etc.

Good luck with your graphics!

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Your feedback is appreciated! Questions and comments are welcome!

It’s Easy to Design Your Own Graphics

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You really can design your own book covers and author graphics:

With a bit of training, you can start designing almost right away.

You can get the right software if you know what to look for.

From all my talks with indie authors I’ve had over the years, the biggest turnoff to designing for themselves is the software. Either they can’t find good software or it is too hard to learn.

I normally would tell people to leave the designing to the professionals, but not everyone has that in their budget.

Here are some basic design principles you should know:

Before you go purchase software, let me introduce you to some basic design principles. This way you can see that you will be capable enough to give it a go.

Balance

Most of us can tell what looks well balanced and what doesn’t. What you may not know is that there are different forms of balance.

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  • The visual weight of your design elements can be evenly distributed on either side of the design in order to be symmetrical.
  • Asymmetrical balance is the balance achieved through color, scale, and contrast to achieve flow. Most of your designs will be asymmetrical.

Start looking at book covers and graphic designs and point out the flow. Notice how design elements are chosen for their color, scale, and contrast. How each element works with the others to draw the eye to focal points. The design flow will draw your eyes through the elements of the design and to those focal points.

In a matter of seconds, you can decern the mood, the genre, and the theme of the design, hear its message visually. In those few seconds, a reader will decide whether or not you’ve piqued their interest.

Proximity

Proximity creates a relationship between similar or related elements. These elements are visually connected by way of font, color, size, etc. Basically, the things that are related should be nearer to each other.

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Proximity can create relationships between the visual elements in a composition. It can create relevance, hierarchy, organization, and structure. Or, there can also be no relationship between elements, by breaking organization and structure.

Alignment

You will want to be sure that the elements of your design are in alignment. You might center all the text to the centerfold of the design. You might zigzag the flow by centering the top and bottom text, but then staggering a blurb that you want to stand out. You can align elements across a design or diagonally. Watch for different types of alignment and what appeals to you.

Visual Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is important because it can help lead the viewer through the message of the design. The viewer’s eye will follow this visual hierarchy.

Each element of your design will carry more or less visual weight. More important elements are given extra visual weight to move them up the hierarchy. You can use larger or bolder fonts to highlight the title, etc. What color you use can determine hierarchy. Large to small, bold to soft, bright to dark, top to bottom, left to right, etc., these all are part of a visual hierarchy.

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Repetition

A large part of graphic design is branding. As an author, you will be developing your own visual brand too. Repetition in design is fundamental, but essential when it comes to branding.

Repetition creates a rhythm, it ties together the consistent elements and strengthens the overall design. There are certain elements that will make viewers instantly recognize your brand. These design elements include your color palette, fonts, and your logo.

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Contrast

The contrast will guide the viewer to key design elements. Two opposing design elements create contrast:

  • dark vs. light
  • contemporary vs. old-fashioned
  • large vs. small, etc.

Organization and a hierarchy can be established with contrast. Using contrast is useful in creating visual interest too.

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Color

Color is basic in design and is also used within other principles of design. Color expresses mood so what palette you choose is very important. As a graphic designer, it’s always helpful to have a basic knowledge of color theory, take the time to do a little research. This will pay off hugely in the long run. Do yourself a favor and get yourself a color wheel for easy reference.

Amazon.com: Cox 133343 Color Wheel 9-1/4"-

Negative Space

The space that is left blank in your design is called negative space. And just like dark matter in space, it’s an area that contains nothing flashy, or no design elements. No design elements except for maybe some background color. If used creatively, negative space can help create a shape and highlight the important components of your design.

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by Brian Caldwell

Typography

Typography is a key element in graphic design. It can speak volumes. Typography can set the mood, establish it’s own hierarchy, and even express genre. It’s important not to use overly used fonts in graphic design. Overly used fonts are most of the font’s that come with your common word software. You are better off purchasing your fonts.

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Rules

The only real rule in graphic design is to not use true black or white in your designs, they won’t transfer correctly in printing or on the web. Other than that you are free to design in your own style, whatever that may be.

These principles are your guide to creating great graphics and building a solid brand.

Now to get your software:

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Before you continue to the next section, you should know that I am NOT affiliated with the software listed below. I won’t earn anything if you purchase one of them from any of the links posted.

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Here are the top graphic design platforms:

Affinity Designer: You can get this platform for a one-time payment of $24.99. (2020)

This is awesome software for the price. It will give you all the tools you need to create great graphics and is easy to learn. This platform is smaller in size than others and won’t bog down your computer. You will have access to free updates and Affinity Designer also runs very smoothly and quickly, even on older machines. Here is the link to the tutorials.

Adobe Photoshop: You can get this platform for $20.99 per month. (2020)

I use Photoshop, I like that you can use it for photo editing and compositing, digital painting, and graphic design. It works for all of my design needs when it comes to creating book covers. Photoshop is an excellent program used for creating images, photo editing, and graphics design or to add special effects to images. Vector graphics are not used in photoshop because it is pixel-based software. Here’s the link to their tutorials.

Gravit Designer: This platform is a free full-featured vector graphic design app.

With this platform, you can design from anywhere on any machine. You won’t have the versatility of Affinity or Adobe, but you can make graphics on the fly for blogposts. Gravit is mostly vector-based software, but has image manipulation and editing, and is a good cheap alternative to Affinity. Here is the link to their tutorials. This would be the software I would use if I couldn’t afford Photoshop and Adobe Suites.

Inkscape: This software is free and is a great substitute for Photoshop.

Inkscape is a free open source vector-based software because it does not take the resources of RAM nevertheless you are under MS Windows or Linux Distribution like Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, OpenSUSE, RedHat, etc. Inkscape is better because it has own plugins for bevel and emboss, image manipulations, some times it behaves like photoshop. Here is the link to Inkscapes tutorials.

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These basics will get you started and headed in the right direction. Just remember that learning how to create great designs is a process. You will improve over time. But there’s no reason you can’t create some pretty great graphics right out of the gate.

Good Luck!

 

 

My Latest Project – A Writer’s Guide

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My Most Recent Project

A Writer’s Guide – Volume One

Working as an author consultant puts me in the position of helping many writers discover their author brand. It is typically the first exercise we address because knowing your brand enables you to create a comprehensive author platform that will work for you – a good platform will serve as your base where all of your efforts begin. It will successfully promote your talent and product. An author’s platform must be developed first – before the details of the packaging- before the creation of the content – before the writing of the book. An author’s platform is ann essential key to their success.

Defining your brand is the first step for any author or writer.

Setting up your author platform properly is crucial, and understanding your brand helps you do it right.

I follow the same process every time I approach author branding, and it works!

I am creating this guide to make the process of branding easy and fun.The results will be awesome for creating or improving your platform and growing your network.

Completing this workbook will help you to:

  1. Improve your platform or begin creating a brand-new one.
  2. Grow your network.
  3. Create exciting new content.
  4. Effectively market your books.
  5. And … set some new writing goals.

Who Needs This Workbook?

This workbook is for all writers who are ready to start their blog or website and it has tons to offer those who have already established their platforms.

  • The exercises in this writer’s manual are simple to follow. When you’re done with them all, you will have a refined view of your brand and all that it has to offer.
  • When you’re done with them all, you will have a refined view of your brand and all that it has to offer.
  • You will also have crucial information that can help you rapidly grow your network and market your books or products.

I Need Your Help!

  • I am looking for some people to join my launch team. There will be some awesome prizes!
  • I am hoping for some early reviewers that can help me make sure this workbook is perfect!
  • I would like to organize a blog tour. I will be contacting some of you in the near future, or you can contact me if you’re interested in hosting the tour – I’m launching the last week of July! I’m also happy to accept guest posts on my blog if you’re interested.
  • Any input or feedback you have to offer would be much appreciated.

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I am so thankful for anyone who’s willing to participate in whatever way they can. So please, contact me if you’re interested.

If you have any tips or advice for me at all, I’d love to hear that too! 🙂

Thank You!