If you schedule it, then you’re more likely to do it
Karen Salmansohn is an ex-Senior VP award winning ad writer/creative director (at age 27) who left her successful ad career (having worked as a writer/creative director/image consultant for J. Walter Thompson, McCann Erickson, Young + Rubicam, Averett, Free + Ginsberg, MTV, VH-1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Lifetime, E!, CNBC, NBC, Oxygen, Lee Hunt Associates, L’Oreal, Revlon, Avon, Blue Q, etc) to pursue her passion of writing.
Karen Salmansohn is now a best selling author/book packager with over 1 million books sold – and over 1.3 million fans on Facebook – known for creating a new breed of books – “self help for people who would never be caught dead reading self help.” Or: “self help books you can give as a gift — and not get slapped, because they look kinda cool.”
Some titles: How to Be Happy Dammit, The Bounce Back Book, Prince Harming Syndrome, Instant Happy, Think Happy – and many more.
Karen Salmansohn not only writes, but packages her books — art directing them from beginning to end. Publishers include: Workman, Chronicle, Rizzoli, Simon and Schuster, Broadway Books, Harmony Books, Tenspeed, Tricycle, Sourcebooks, etc…
Some cool people who have loved/hyped her books include: Tony Robbins, Jon Stewart, Madonna, Deepak Chopra, Arianna Huffington, Marissa Tomei, Joan Rivers, Eminem, Lisa Loeb, Jay Leno, Graydon Carter, Keith Ferrazzi, Seth Godin. Peter Guber – and then some.
Where did the idea for your UNBLOCK PROGRAM come from?
I’ve been swamped with emails from many people asking me how I became a best selling author and columnist for Oprah. They told me that they wanted to learn how to write a book on the side – or pursue writing books fulltime – and asked me to share some of my tools and insider secrets. So I created The UnBlock Program.
I fully understand how overwhelming it can be to try to write and publish a book. I wasn’t always an author. I started my career in advertising – where I was a writer/creative director for over a decade. Eventually I gathered up the gumption to quit – and pursue my passion for being an author.
But for a loooooong time I was forever stuck in “The Never Ending Land Of Re-Write” – unable to finish my very first book. I used to joke, “I’m not a writer. I’m a Re-Re-Re-Re-Writer. Thankfully I finally figured my way out of the “Re-re-re-writer Loop!”
I’ve since written, packaged and published 30 different books – which are sold in over 10 countries around the world! Plus I have over 1.3 million fans on Facebook. I publish my books in a range of themes and categories: fiction, non-fiction, business, kids books, humor, self-help – and then some.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up early – often at 5:30 or 6 am – so I get a head start on my day before my son wakes up. I meditate, work out a little, read the news or a book. I make the morning my own little sanctuary – because I believe mornings are your trajectory for the day. If you start off feeling happy and at peace, the whole day is aimed in a happy and peaceful direction.
I schedule my client appointments so they’re not back to back – so I have breathing room in between to do my own writing.
Clients either call by Skype or phone. We cover a range of areas – from unblocking writer’s block – to unblocking social media block – to unblocking publishing block – to unblocking emotional blocks and limiting beliefs which are holding them back.
How do you bring ideas to life?
First, I drink a lot of coffee. I’ve published over 30 books and I joke if I didn’t drink coffee I might have only published 1 or 2 books.
Seriously though, I’m a big believer that if you love what you do, you’re your passion for what you’re doing is even more energizing that coffee. And I love writing books and I love helping others to write books.
One of my big theories for writing books which sell: before you begin writing too much, make sure you have a “Singular Prong” in your book. What do I mean by “Singular Prong”?
Well, pretend you are holding a “bouquet” of sharpened pencils. Each point is standing out at exactly the same level. You then bounce the palm of your free hand up and down on top of those sharpened points. It might hurt a little – but not so much. Now let’s say you have a “bouquet” of sharpened pencils – but one point is poking out much higher. Again you bounce the palm of your free hand up and down on top. Ouch! This time it’s going to hurt – because that one singular prong is sticking up so much higher.
When you write a book, you need a singular prong. You need one high concept theme in your book – which sticks out – so your book will stand out in the marketplace.
CLARITY attracts a BOOK BUYER and thereby a BOOK DEAL!
Basically, a book needs to be summed up quickly and powerfully in its description –- in such a way that it will hook a publisher and captivate an audience. Plus, a book reads more fluidly when there’s a unifying singular prong theme – and thereby keeps the reader hooked.
It’s very common for writers to try to squeeze in many ideas into book – because they fall in love with every idea that they have! Often this is because a writer has “scarcity mentality.” They can’t envision a future where they’re writing lots more books – where each different book can feature a different smart and beautiful idea prong! As a result, they feel they have to squeeze every smart and beautiful “idea prong” all into one book! As result, their book becomes overstuffed with too many idea prongs – and eventually nothing standing out about it. The book becomes too general – too tame.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I love that there are more books coming out from a range of new funny female authors. I love that there are more visually-innovative books coming out – which have truly stunning visuals – gorgeous little gems of books that are beautiful pieces of art to flip through, as well as filled with poignant writing.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I pace what I do in 1 hour blocks of time – so every 1 hour I’m switching what I’m working on – and I don’t burn out. For example, I’ll work on writing a book for 1 hour – then I’ll have an UnBlock client for a session – then I’ll write and design some inspirational posters for 1 hour – then I’ll work on product design for 1 hour, etc. I find I’m more productive when I work in 1 hour increments – so I don’t get brain fog or lose the love for a project.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I used to work in big New York Advertising Agencies – which worked you round the clock and on weekends. There was an old joke about one agency: “If you don’t come in on Saturday, don’t bother coming in on Sunday.”
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I’d have started my Unblock Program sooner. I only launched it this year – and immediately sold out all spaces up until June. I’m now starting to accept UnBlock clients again. I love helping people to bring their books to life.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Schedule everything into your calendar –not just work activities – but also activities which are about fun and balance – like exercise, meditation, reading a book, and doing fun stuff with friends and family. If you schedule it, then you’re more likely to do it – and so I schedule “play” as well as “work”. With this in mind, I regularly look at my calendar and make sure I have a balance of activities in the following areas: family, friends, health, altruism, travel, hobbies I love, personal growth, being outdoors in nature.
What is one strategy that has helped you to grow your business? Please explain how.
I give away things for free. I gave away a free 1 hour UnBlock Audio Workshop – and that wound up attracting many, many clients. I had so many people sign up after listening to this free 1 hour workshop, that I had to stop taking clients on for a few months. (I’m now back to accepting UnBlock clients again.)
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’m a bit of a luddite. I’m nervous around new technology. But I’m also aware that world is constantly changing and I need to change with it. So I’m teaching myself how to create more digital programs and plan to launch many more – with new technological bells and whistles.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think a terrific business idea is to turn successful books into successful digital e-courses.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought my son Ari over 10 Goosebumps books recently. I love reading them to him – and acting out the various parts.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
My site is on WordPress. I use Lightning Base to host. And I use Infusionsoft for my newsletter (although I nicknamed it Confusionsoft. It’s a pretty complicated system – but it has many innovative features that help in categorizing my client base.)
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I loved the book “Good To Great.” The business tools in it stayed with me for a long time. 2 Example: (1) The secret to good leadership is to lead with kindness and openness to other people’s ideas. Basically, tough bosses don’t do as well as kind bosses. The big reason: The way to grow a company from to good to great is to make sure your employees feel safe to tell you when there’s a problem. If your employees are afraid to talk with you about issues which are keeping your company back from growth, then you’ll never go from good to great. (2) If you have a problematic employee, make sure to get them off the bus as soon as possible.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.