Monday, November 26, 2012

8 Tips for Fitting Social Media into Your Already Busy Day

Many of my coworkers have asked me how I manage to fit all the things I do in social media into my workday. Sometimes I wonder myself.

But I've been doing this for a while now, and so have learned to streamline my social media work. I thought I'd take a few minutes to give you some tips for working social media into your workday. It's really not as difficult as you might think.

First please keep in mind that I use social media for work, not for personal stuff. That distinction makes a difference.

#1  Lay the groundwork first

When I first started using social media, I spent a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook. I was trying to build a base to work from, building Twitter lists and Facebook friends and fans.

If you're starting out, you'll need to do the same. No getting around it, just dig in and do it. Believe me, it'll pay off.

For great info on getting started on social media, check out this Quickstarter series.

Rome. Get it?

#2  When in Rome, check out Rome

During a typical workday, I'll check Facebook (FB) and Google+ (G+), my two main sites, first thing in the morning to see what has been posted overnight. The rest of the day I check those sites mostly when I'm already online for something else.

In a way I'm lucky that way, because my job requires me to do quite a bit of online research. So when I'm there I'll quickly check updates on FB and G+. If I find something I think my followers would like, I'll repost it. It doesn't take much time once you get the hang of it.

#3  Stay focused on your core goal

When you use social media for work, you need to develop and stick to a clear, compelling goal.

Take my friend Lorry Schoenly's blog at Her goal is simple and straightforward: "To make visible the challenging profession of nursing in a correctional environment." Her blog posts, Twitter tweets, and FB updates consistently fit that goal.

When you focus on one goal, you can skim updates more efficiently and make better use of the limited time you can spend on social media.

#4  Make use of the tools available to you

I rarely tweet directly on Twitter. Instead, I use a website called Iffft. Weird name, but great site. It allows users to set up rules (they're like macros in Word, but online), to initiate a set of functions.

For instance, I use one Iffft rule to send all my FB updates to my Twitter feed. Easy. There are thousands of these rules already created, so all you have to do is find the ones you need and go through Iffft's easy configuration steps.

Lots of people rely on social media managers like HootSuite to aggregate tweets, FB updates, LinkedIn posts, and so forth, into a single interface. I'd suggest that you try one to see if it works for you.

Basically the more social media sites you're on, the more tools you'll need to keep track of them.

#5  Use FB's scheduling function

Not long ago Facebook instituted functionality to allow users to schedule updates. Yes, it's ridiculously clunky, but it works.

Use it.

If you've got a few minutes free, make a few updates and schedule them sporadically over the next day or so. Your friends will think you're a wizard at posting great info all day long, but actually you'll be in class at the white board.

I'd very much like to see Google provide similar functionality on Google+, and I suspect at some point it will.

3 final tips

  1. A little at a time.
  2. In and out quickly.
  3. Scan, don't read.
Now, go forth and social mediate!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mary Kinn

Mary Kinn once came to a seminar of mine called "So You Want To Be An Author."

Let me repeat.

Mary Kinn came to a seminar I once gave called "So You Want To Be An Author." Mary Kinn.

THE Mary Kinn.

The Mary Kinn of Kinn's The Medical Assistant, now in its eleventh edition, the one that's been around since 1956, the year Elvis first hit the charts and gas cost 22 cents a gallon.

That Mary Kinn.

It was at the 2006 AAMA annual conference in Milwaukee, and it was my first seminar for them. I really wanted to wow the attendees, but I also hoped that out of the seminar a potential author might evolve. I was signing heavily at the time and looking for budding authors everywhere.

I droned on about royalties, contracts, the publishing process, and how difficult authoring was but also how deeply fulfilling. Not like saving a life but still, pretty great. And that's how I ended that day, on the worth and promise of authoring a book.

A tallish woman approached me afterward to, I thought, ask a question or perhaps tell me about a book she wished to write. I put on my best salesman face.

That's what we publisher-types do, after all, we sell. We sell ourselves and our abilities. We sell would-be authors on the services we can provide. We sell the potential for great sales down the road and the payoff all authors seek but not enough find.

But the woman didn't ask a question or talk about a book. Instead she stopped near me and sort of stepped to one side, opening the path for someone behind her. A tiny, aged, wisp of a woman appeared in my gaze. Her fine, completely gray hair was coiffed into a bun atop her head, a perfect fit for her aging frame.

The color of her eyes I cannot recall, I just remember the sparkle in them and the kind, gentle face that surrounded them.

"This is Mary Kinn," the woman to the side said. I looked at her and said, "The Mary Kinn?"


I was stunned. "Oh, my God," I sputtered, turning back to Ms. Kinn, "it's such an honor to meet you."

I reached for her hand, careful to grasp, not grab--my usual, clumsy practice. Her hand was a rose, most of its petals long since fallen off but still having a few ruby fronds remaining. It was a careful hand, weathered but soft, the hand of a truly admirable woman who has earned every wrinkle.

The feeling stays with me to this day.

"I enjoyed your seminar," she said, her voice sweet and light.

"Thank you," I said, "but why on earth would you come to a session on being an author?"

"Oh," she said,"I just like to keep up with what's going on."

I gushed a bit more about how much I respected her, my words fumbling from my mouth like a quarterback with no thumbs.

Our time together soon ended, and she and her friend turned and walked away. I felt as if I had just met a durable Hollywood star. Susan St. James, perhaps.

What Ms. Kinn was like to work with I have no idea, nor do I care. Her book is now being ably authored by Patricia Young-Adams and Deborah Proctor and is still selling well. No matter.

Mary Kinn is an icon in the medical assisting world, and in the health care educational publishing world where I spend much of my time, and for that moment she was my idol.

She still is, actually.

That's what being an author can mean and a plateau I wish every author could reach.

Thank you for that moment, Mary. I'll cherish it always.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What Is "Manuscript" and What Should It Look Like When It's Finished?

New authors hear the word manuscript and think it's some magical being that can't be understood by human people persons.

So not true.

Let's take a look at what actual manuscript is and why you shouldn't be afraid of it.

What is it?

Manuscript is nothing more than a book in chapter form in a word processing document, typically Microsoft Word. One chapter per file. No big deal.

How is it formatted?

Each publisher has its own preferences for how a manuscript should be formatted, but here are the basic parameters most of us use. Please do be sure, though, to check each publisher's author page for more specific guidelines.
  • Most publishers want just a plain, unfancified, unstyled (if you don't know what styles are, you'll be all set to roll) Word document.
  • Double-spaced
  • 1-inch margins all around
  • Times or Times New Roman font, 12-point
  • One tab in front of each paragraph except the first paragraph after a heading (for most but not all publishers); no tab in front of first paragraph after a heading
  • NO EXTRA TABS (more on that in a moment)
  • ONE space between sentences, not two
  • Headings in boldface
  • Notations to indicate where photos, illustrations, tables, and other figures should be placed. We use something like this:

There are certainly other parameters, depending on the publisher, type of book, feature set, and so forth, but those are the main ones.

What’s the deal with extra tabs?

I tell you what the deal is with extra tabs. They get in the way!

Notice I said "extra" tabs. Single tabs, as noted above and for other purposes, are fine. It's those double-, triple-, and quadrillion-tabs that mess things up.

It doesn't make any difference what a list or table looks like on the manuscript page; it will all be designed in the final product.

If you want to make a three-column table of information, for instance, just make a table in Word and fill it in. Don't try to make everything line up with tabs and hard returns. If you do that, you'll make your editor go insane, and based on the editors I know (me included), that's not a long trip.