Happy Holidays!

Hi all!

Hope you’ve all enjoyed your end of year celebrations, whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah,  Kwanzaa, or some other festive occasion. I wish you all a happy holidays and a merry and safe New Years’!

I have to do some serious thinking about this blog over the next few days while I’m on vacation to see if I’m going to continue with it or not. Towards the end of the year I got the strong feeling of being spread too thin, so I may have to pare back on the blogs I write at a bit. I know others of you (mostly part time bloggers I bet) have fought this also. I’m curious as to how you resolved it. Did you back away completely, cut back to only a few posts a week? One post a week?

Let me know how you handle this great balancing act. I’m curious!

In the meantime, enjoy the holidays and may we all have a great and profitable 2008!

–Fitz

What I learned from the Blue Man Group…

Hey all…

I had an opportunity to go see the Blue Man Group in concert this weekend at the Pepsi Center in Denver. What an amazing show! (You can see my review at my other blog here.)

Blue Man Group

But I learned a few things from them that I thought I’d share. Though an oddball way to cover the topics of marketing and publishing, it’s applicable to many disciplines, hobbies, and jobs, so I thought I’d see where it led…

  1. Don’t JUST think outside the box… Think WAY outside the box.What do I mean by that? Take what we know from simply living in a media age. How do we make music? How do we behave if we’re rock stars? Turn that on its head… Approach it like you’ve never heard music before. Take what’s in front of you and make it yours – beat on it – experiment – have fun – and see where it leads. Or take the behavior you know you SHOULD do (like if you’re a rock star, you have to be on stage jumping around, singing, and playing music) – and break it down to its component parts, then look at each of those like you’ve never seen them before.Try it… You might come up with something new and unique. I’m working on some new ideas now for the game to see what shakes out. I’ll let you know how the experiment goes.
  2. Take an established idea (like writing a roleplaying game) and turn it inside out.What do I mean? Well, in the game case, traditionally roleplaying games are like Dungeons and Dragons or Vampire – you have a character, the character interacts with the world and changes as a result. But what if the character maybe… creates the world? Or perhaps the experience for the players becomes more interactive — there IS no game master maybe. Perhaps there’s a set of ground rules, a character for each player, and an idea and each player runs with it for a while.The same applies to blogging or writing. Take an established idea and turn it inside out. So we need to do SEO and marketing. Why? Break it down. Build it back up again. Maybe we’ll come up with a totally new paradigm that will change life as we know it!?
  3. Have fun!This applies to the Blue Man as well as the rest of us. We can’t just go through the motions. If we don’t enjoy what we do, something’s wrong and we need to fix it, change it, or at least figure out WHAT’s wrong. We spend too much time in our lives working to not enjoy it. Maybe find the one aspect of your job that you want to have fun with or find a hobby to enjoy — but we MUST find something to squeeze some enjoyment out of life or it gets very gray very fast.

So that’s it. I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say. How will YOU become a Blue Man and turn life upside down?

Let me know!

–Fitz

Writing a good Press Release in 5 easy steps…

Hey there…

I’m starting to write some press releases announcing the release of the roleplaying game I’ve been working on and have come across some great sites with advice for creating great press releases that I will try and distill down to five easy steps… (I’ll provide links to the other resources I found also at the bottom of the article.)

So the five easy steps…

  1. I’ve seen the acronym AIDA several places while figuring out a strategy for press releases. It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. The Attention part is that you need to grab your reader at the headline. Catchy headlines are tough to come by sometimes, but you want to grab your reader and make them read the rest of the article. All too often, editors and writers will look at press releases and dismiss them due to poor headlines. Too many releases cross their desks every day to read something boring.So to create a catchy headline, you have to appeal to your reader’s emotions and use trigger words. Find examples of press releases written for your field. Analyze their headlines for key phrases or words. Perhaps even go so far as to come up with a variety of different options and test them on coworkers, friends, and family to see what they like or don’t like.In my case, I’m writing a press release for roleplaying gamers. A couple of places I’ve looked for press releases is at GamingReport.com and RPG.net’s press page.In these cases, most releases seem to have pretty mundane titles announcing product availability or sales. These are important topics obviously, but may not get a reader’s attention quickly. What I want to get across is three main ideas: the name of the game system, the name of the book, and what it will bring to you as a gamer.So some options I’ve come up with are:
    • Moebius Adventures: Core Rules Opens New Doorways to Adventure!
    • Moebius Adventures: Core Rules Released Into The Wild!
    • Moebius Adventures: Core Rules Book Available – Start Adventuring Infinite Paths!

    I’ll probably go with the first one. The others seem pretty corny.

  2. Now that you have your readers, you need to give them the facts. The first sentence or two of the first paragraph of the release needs to tell the reader what the press release is about. This is where you go with the traditional journalistic five words — who, what, where, when, and why. Think of this as continuing the “tease” for the rest of the release and as the first few sentences of a news cast or newspaper story summarizing the main points of your release succinctly.In my case, I’m publicizing that the Moebius Adventures game is being released for sale. The first release will be to describe the eBook distribution via RPGNow and DriveThruRPG. So my first paragraph will look something like this:

    “On November 12, 2007, Moebius Adventures releases the Core Rules book for the Moebius Adventures Roleplaying Game in PDF (eBook) format for $10.95 on RPGNow.com (http://www.rpgnow.com) and Drive Thru RPG (http://www.drivethrurpg.com). The Moebius Adventures Roleplaying Game is a universal, cross-genre rule system that will enable you and your gaming group the ability to explore multiple worlds. The Core Rules book starts the trip by providing all the basic rules for the system. Here you’ll learn about character creation, general gameplay, combat rules, and possibly even save the village of Domerre from some men with a monster.”

  3. So now you have the basics out of the way and you can focus on the other aspects, key selling points, of your product or service that customers would be interested in.In my case, I plan on providing a simple bulleted list of features for my game:
    • Open character generation system
    • Random character generation offers crunch for characters, or can use point-based system to choose skills and characteristic values
    • Simple rule mechanic for skill resolution
    • Simple, effective combat rules that take strike effectiveness into account when determining damage to combatants
    • Sample Characters and Adventure to get you started
  4. This is an optional step, but it can be very useful to include a quote from a customer about your product or service to show other customers that this new release does work for someone and isn’t just marketing fluff.In my case, I have a brand new game and very little exposure as yet. I hope to be able to use quotes in follow-on releases.
  5. Lastly, you need to talk about product availability. If you’re releasing the product, when are you releasing it? Where can they learn more? Where can the find your product? Who can they talk to for more details? Contact information is very important.

The key point here is to focus most on content, not layout or formatting. Make sure that the press release says what you want it to say clearly and concisely so that your customers can find you and your product easily and quickly!

Once you have your press release written, you can submit it via a number of free distribution websites, including:

Here are some other resources on the web for helping create great press releases:

I hope this has helped you get some ideas on your own press releases. I’ll be honing my own skills as I write some for my own products!

Have a great day!

–Fitz

The Home with Heather Challenge…

Hey all…

So as a relative newcomer to the blogging world, I saw the challenge from Heather from Home With Heather this morning…

Answer these questions about yourself…

  1. How long have you been blogging?
  2. What inspired you to start a blog and who are your mentors?
  3. Are You trying to make money online, or just doing it for fun?
  4. Tell me 3 things you LOVE about being online.
  5. Tell me 3 things you STRUGGLE with in the online world.

So I thought I’d try to answer these questions…

  1. I’ve been blogging for a few months personally, but just started a blog to try and generate some revenue towards the beginning of October (this blog http://www.fitzbiz.org). But before that I had been blogging on a personal blog putting up observations, movie reviews, and other odds and ends for a few months (here at http://writer.fitzhome.com).
  2. Well, initially I started blogging to write up my movie reviews. Most people who know me know that I love to see movies, so I’ll get coworkers, friends, and family members asking about what movies I’ve seen lately at the theater or on DVD. So that started out as reviews on my website, but blogging made that SOOOO much easier.Mentors? For the business side, I have to go with Yaro Starak and John Chow, but I’m finding that there’s this great big community of people who want to help, like Heather… So I’m hopeful that I’ll find a few more folks to guide me along the way!
  3. A little of both… I have three blogs — one for fun, one for business (which is fun ’cause it’s a learning experience, and one for the roleplaying game I’m trying to bring to market).
  4. I love the internet — it consistently blows my mind with the breadth of information and the people that are sharing that information. I love connecting with people from my past — recently connected with a friend of mine from High School that I’d lost touch with and found again on FaceBook. And I just love that I have a reason to write again.
  5. Like Heather, I have to say writing is sometimes the toughest part. Coming up with topics some days is also a struggle. And then fighting the addiction to keep going when I should be doing other things… Those would have to be my top three!

So Heather, thanks for making me think about myself and what I’m doing as a blogger. I’ve enjoyed many of your posts and am sure I will glean much from your blog!

Until next time…

–Fitz

Words of Wisdom from a Telecommuter…

Hi all…

For the last several years, I’ve been a telecommuter, working from home for the company I work for. I’ve worked as many as 1000 miles away from my home office and never really had any major issues with internet connectivity or attending meetings or anything, so I’ve been pretty lucky. (Note that I’m writing this article right now in Notepad because my cable modem connection has gone down this morning.)

But it has been interesting in a number of ways. So I thought I’d share a few of my observations and recommendations as a telecommuter…

  1. Anyone who works for a multi-national corporation these days or for clients around the world has to deal with time zones. No matter where I am, daylight savings time always throws a wrench into things. And this year, with daylight savings being bumped a week on both sides, I have had issues with a number of auto-set clocks and software packages that has caused scheduling issues for a couple of weeks this year. It’s tough keeping the local time straight some days and figuring out what it is in other parts of the country or in China, Germany, or London, gets entertaining. I’ve found that it’s useful to just try and keep a list of how many hours different it is. For example, I live in the Mountain Time zone, so I just try to track east coast (+2 hours) and west coast (-1 hours) and let other time zones take care of themselves.
  2. Internet connectivity is a must. I have had whole days knocked out (thankfully only a few over the last few years) with no connectivity. And for someone who lives online via the web, e-mail and instant messengers, I have to say it’s maddening to lose that time. So try and find a reliable internet provider if you can.
  3. It gets lonely. I spend lots of time alone in my basement where my home office is located and play music, talk to friends via IM, send lots of e-mails, and chat with my dogs and cats when my wife and kids are gone. And when they’re here, I fight the noise and confusion to keep on track. But ultimately it’s you working by yourself in a bubble. So make sure you take care of yourself and get out into the world from time to time. The sun and sky are nice things to enjoy outside, not just through a window. Go out to lunch with friends or coworkers. And if you get a chance — go to the office sometimes!

However, with all that said… I get tons more work done from home than I ever did in the office. The office becomes one big water cooler and has distractions galore. (Not that I don’t have distractions at home, but they’re more manageable and under my control for the most part.) If you have the self-discipline, I recommend it, even if it’s only a day or two a week. You might be surprised at what you can get done!

If you’re a telecommuter or work out of your house, how do you deal with the distractions of being at home? Let me know and if you have good tips, I might have to use them and share them with the studio audience. 🙂

Until next time… Keep on chugging!

–Fitz