Archive | Dec 2014

Reblog: 5 New Years Resolutions for Authors

Here is another gem from Book Marketing Tools.  I do not agree with everything in this blog post, especially this idea that you can and should try to do all/most of this EVERYDAY.  I find focus is very important to my writing and my productivity; do things ONE at a time or you will burn out trying to be everything at once.

 

Here is that post in full:

5 New Years Resolutions for Authors

Happy New Year!

A new year causes us to look back at the previous year and see all that we have (and have not) done.

A new year also allows us to look ahead to the coming year with renewed optimism and excitement for what is to come.

A new year wouldn’t be complete without some resolutions. Some people want to lose weight. Others want to be more productive. Some want to start a new business and others want to take their business to the next level!

As a self-published author, there are some things that you can do to improve your business, further your brand, and hopefully make more money by selling more books. Before we dive into our list of 5 great resolutions for authors, let’s look at what makes a good resolution.

What Makes A Good New Year’s Resolution

Lisa Lahey, a Harvard professor, says, “People in the New Year’s resolution approach are just going directly at trying to change their behaviors. For the majority of people… it is just not going to work because it is not fundamentally a behavior problem: It is a mindset problem.”

The key is to not focus on changing behaviors. Many behaviors are ingrained in us and usually have a deeper root cause that, if not addressed directly, will cause our surface behavior change to be short-lived. You may succeed in the short-term, but you will usually fail in the long-term if you are trying to just change behaviors.

So how can you make resolutions that you can stick to? The key is to focus on what Lahey calls “technical goals”, those that require learning a new skill or implementing a new behavior. Instead of making a goal to “lose more weight”, you can focus on a technical goal such as “walk 1 mile, 4 times per week”. Such a goal is related to “lose more weight”, but this type of goal can be measured, tracked, and is something you are in control of. If you resolve to lose more weight but your body doesn’t cooperate, then you can become discouraged. By creating goals that you are in control of, you can control whether they are accomplished or not.

How does this relate to authors?

All authors wants to sell more books (of course), so that usually becomes the focus of their goals and resolutions. The problem is, you are not directly in control of whether or not you sell more books (unless you are buying them all yourself, which defeats the purpose.) You CAN control the steps you take to help you to sell more books and those are the types of goals that a self-published author should focus on.

What Can You Do To Sell More Books This New Year?

Here are the 5 New Year’s resolutions for authors:

  1. Spend 30 Minutes A Day On Marketing – Marketing is important but it is often neglected. Either authors don’t like the idea of marketing, they don’t know what to do, or they would just rather be writing. Whatever the case is, marketing is often neglected and if you aren’t marketing, you probably aren’t selling as many books as you could be. Marketing is simply telling other people about your product. Resolve to spend just 30 minutes a day finding and adding readers on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook. Work on reaching out to blogs that have a similar subject matter as your book, finding reviewers, or setting up passive marketing mechanisms like calls to action in the back of your book. There are plenty of things to do, so if you can devote just 30 minutes a day to marketing, you will definitely be able to sell more books in this new year!
  2. Write More Books – While I don’t believe in the philosophy of simply writing more books as your only form of marketing, I do think that the more books you have, the more opportunities you have to gain readers and sell more books. Focus on publishing as many books as you can this year (even if it is just 1 or 2), because different books will grab people’s attention in different ways, but once they see and like your writing style, they will want to read more books from you so it pays off to have more books to sell to them!
  3. Set Up Your Mailing List and Send People To It – If you do not have a mailing list set up, read here to learn why you should set up a mailing list. If you already have a mailing list, or after you set one up, work on leading people to the mailing list. Create an enticing offering, whether it is a piece of art, a novelette, or something appealing to get them to sign up to your mailing list. Talk about your mailing list and the exclusive content they can get by joining the list on Twitter, Facebook, on your blog, etc. This is the single most important marketing mechanism you can have in place, so put your focus on growing your list this new year.
  4. Find 2-3 Blogs A Week That You Can Promote Your Book On – Finding blogs that deal with a similar subject matter as your books is one of the most effective ways to market your book. Does your main character love her cat? Find cat-lover blogs and tell them about your book, possibly even offering a free copy to the blog owner. They get a free book, something to write about that their readers will love, and you get a way to promote your book that isn’t saturated with other books and that can drive some solid sales to your book! It is a win-win strategy for all involved: you, the blog owner, and the blog readers! Seek out and find 2-3 such blogs each week and reach out to them (this can be done during your 30 minutes of marketing a day!) Expose your book to new readers at each blog who would love to know about your books!
  5. Connect With 3-4 Other Authors You Can Cross Promote With – The idea of “self-publishing” creates a feeling of having to go at it alone (the word “self” doesn’t help), but you do not need to go on this journey alone! Find 3-4 other similar authors early in the year and reach out to them to see if you can work together with them to promote each others’ books. You can run discount promos together, you can tweet about and share each others books, and you could even make boxed sets featuring 1-2 of each authors books. Many more promotional opportunities are available when you work together with other authors. You can share your audience, your reach, and get more exposure all from working together! Work together with other authors to help boost sales for each of you this year!

Charging Ahead in the New Year

There is always some type of marketing you can be doing, but there are never enough hours in the day to write more, market more, and do all of the publisher duties such as editing, formatting, etc. But, you can make small, measurable goals or resolutions to improve your marketing this year by resolving to do a few (or all) of the resolutions above! These steps will help you to accomplish the ultimate goal to sell more books and get more readers!

Here’s to a happy and prosperous year!

– The Book Marketing Tools Team

Reblog: How to Get Bloggers to Review your Book

One of the best strategies for marketing books is to get as many people OTHER THAN YOU THE AUTHOR to write about and review your books for you.  In this, bloggers are key.  Today’s reblog comes from BookDaily.com offering some very helpful advice.

How to Get Bloggers to Review your Book

How do you get bloggers to review your novel? That is the magic question. Allow me to discuss the strategies that worked for me and that I believe can work for you.

Querying Bloggers

Speaking as a blogger and a former newspaper reviewer, it’s really annoying when an author sends a form letter seeking a review. It’s also kind of insulting. You want a blogger to spend how many hours reading your book and then writing a review, and the most you can personalize your letter is by adding the person’s name (and not always that)? Oh, no, no, no.

Requesting a review is not unlike querying a literary agent. A certain set of parameters apply to the situation. Well, they do if you want to see results.

#1-How to find book blogs.
If you’re a YA author, your life will be made much easier by the YA Book Blog Directory. If not, that’s okay. Do a search on Google or your favorite social network and try to find a blog that caters specifically to your genre. Most blogs have blogrolls (either a list of links or a cluster of badges that link to other blogs). The blogroll displays blogs that the blog site you are on enjoys—that’s a mouthful! Chances are, the blogs linked in the blogroll will review similar kinds of books. Most blogs have a pretty robust blogroll, which means finding one blog can lead to dozens and dozens of others. It’s a tangled web, but it will get you to your destination.

#2-Approach the right bloggers!
This should go without saying, but, sadly, it doesn’t. Most book blogs have a review policy in place. A little digging through the menu bar or side bar will easily reveal it. If the blogger doesn’t have an explicit review policy, take the time to read through their past book reviews to determine if your book is a good fit for the site. If a blogger says they do not accept your genre, don’t push it. Don’t write a letter that says, “listen, I know you said you hate romance novels, but I think you’ll really love my novel, because… (insert narcissistic idiocy here).” That’s so not cool.

#3-Construct a query letter. Personalize it for each blogger.
Aw, but that seems like a lot of work! It is a lot of work, but again, you’re asking bloggers to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of 10+ hours to read and review your book. You can spend 10 minutes looking around their sites and showing that you care. Really. This is much like querying an agent. You should construct a basic form letter with the relevant information about your book, and then personalize a portion of it. Include the blogger’s name in the title. I even include the blog name in the subject of the email to signal to the blogger skimming his or her email that, yes, this letter was written just for you—it’s not a mass mailing.

I have a template of the letter I sent out to recruit for my tour. It worked very well and may give you some ideas on how to write your own. Click here to see the example.

#4. Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow on social media sites!
Notice how I said “I’m now following you on XYZ sites?” Bloggers often include links to their Facebook, Twitter, and BookDaily accounts on their sites. Whenever I see a link to connect via social media, I do it. I also make it a point to follow any blogs I visit via Google Friend Connect (or G+). This is yet another way to show bloggers that you spent time on them, and as they see your name popping up on their follow and friend lists, that query you sent will become more ingrained in their memory. Besides which, if a blogger is just too busy to feature you or your book now, they’re now connected with you and might (okay, it’s a long shot, but they might) remember the offer and approach you later.

Social Media

Although contacting bloggers through the above query method is extremely time-consuming, it’s far more effective than recruitment via social media. Why? Because you are specifically targeting bloggers who enjoy your genre!

I’ve had pretty good success recruiting via social media as well, but the bloggers I acquired through that method are not die-hard fans of my genre like the ones I got through the query method. That being said, recruiting through social media is super fast and easy, but… it might not be so fast and easy if you have a small following. Yet another reason to build your social media presence, methinks!

Alright, that’s all I have for you today. I might write a post about organizing your own blog tour, if that’s something you guys want. Just let me know!

Editor’s Note: To read Emlyn’s full article click here.

About the Author:
Emlyn Chand is the president of Novel Publicity and a YA author. She loves to hear and tell stories and emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). Her first novel Farsighted released in late 2011 and is of the YA genre. Learn more about Emlyn at www.emlynchand.com or by connecting with her on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

Repost: Sales Lesson Vodafone and Apple: Unhappy Customers Don’t Buy Read

Earlier this week I received this blog post about not selling to unhappy customers.  It is poignant and very sound advice.

 

Read it at  http://blog.thesocialms.com/sales-lesson-vodafone-apple-unhappy-customers-dont-buy/

by 

Last week my smartphone was stolen. It was brand new – only in my possession for 2 days. It was a shiny new BlackBerry Passport – and I loved that phone. For me phones are there for freeing up time because I can get work done on them – not for wasting my free time watching music videos on Youtube. It was perfect for that.

Yet, it was stolen from me. I am also pretty broke right now so I won’t be getting a new one any time soon. I was angry. I still am.

Here Is why Apple Needs A Sales Lesson

The phone was taken from a pocket of my jacket which was originally zipped close – yet my phone was gone. The whole thing happened in the Apple Store in Berlin (Kurfürstendamm 26 if anyone cares…). And that is where I learned the lesson that Apple Store employees don’t learn anything about sales.

Naturally I went back to the Apple Store a couple of times the last few days to check whether my phone had turned up – and the Apple employees tried to sell me an Iphone.

Sales Lesson

Seriously… I just lost a brand new BlackBerry. Worse: It was stolen from me. I am angry. I am sad. I am unhappy!

And: Unhappy customers don’t buy.

What the hell do people tell you when you start working at Apple? I mean – you are working for Apple, are you not? That’s the company that is supposed to be the holy grail of marketing? Don’t you guys learn anything?

They didn’t even stop when I told them I’m not interested. Guys I want a workhorse for … work, not a toy for watching videos.

And that is a lesson you should learn, fast. Because what you achieved that day is the following: Apple could now release the greatest phone ever, let’s say the “IMEGAPhone” and I still wouldn’t buy it. Ever. Because this is always going to remind me of that day. (I will continue buying their laptops – just because I’m already used to them. But phones – hell no.)

Let me write the following in bold: If you want to sell to someone who is unhappy – make him happy first.

In the case of the stolen smartphone that would have meant something along the lines of: Comfort me for my loss, tell me to show up again tomorrow and ask about it. Give me a phone number to call in. Tell me that you are going to look for it. Whatever.

I would return to the Apple Store with a much better feeling in the future – and would probably spend a lot of money in the future.

I know – Apple can get away with this – at the moment. But isn’t Apple also a company that should know that dark times can always come? And that it is how you treated your fanbase during the good times that decides how they treat you during bad times? That wisdom used to be Apple’s Marketing Mojo – seems they are losing it.

Vodafone Needs a Sales Lesson, Too!

On with the story: I went to the next Vodafone store to get a new SIM card for my old BlackBerry. And there it happened again: Seemingly even before my wish to get the SIM card locked and get a new SIM card was being carried out, they had already started to work on me.

If I wanted a new phone – I could simply order a partner card (25€/month) on top of my existing contract. I don’t need a fucking partner card – I just had my phone stolen. I’m angry, I want someone to shout at (I kept quiet for the most part…).

On paper all these people did everything right: They identified that I was in need of something they could provide and sell me, so they jumped right at me. And believe me – Vodafone really tried hard. Wouldn’t my parents be grateful for a new contract (without a new phone – are you serious…)?

Seriously – when jumping shamelessly at unhappy customers you shouldn’t expect great results. This is not the way to start a relationship with customers and even if you manage to sell something, the customer is still not going to be happy with his purchase. He is going to regret having bought from you. He will not come back. He will cancel his contract as soon as he can.

As for me – I left the store and promised myself to never enter this particular Vodafone shop again.

What Happened to Building Relationships?

It is really scary that these big corporations don’t even get these essential things right.

Both of these could have built a relationship to me that day. I’m not asking for freebies – but a little comfort would have done wonders. I expected both of them to do better – and am seriously disappointed. I mean – Apple is famous for its great marketing – but this is really marketing 101. And Vodafone should know better, too – they actually close contracts on cold calls. And do that a lot!

So what is the moral of this? Maybe Apple should ask every employee a question: “Would you sell an unhappy customer an Iphone?” And then fire anyone who says yes.

Just kidding. But they should take that image of being helpful to a new level.

And Vodafone? Well, my contract lasts for two years now. Doesn’t that suck?

Repost: Punishing kids for lying doesn’t work, study suggests

Reposted from World Science:

If you want your child to be truth­ful, it’s best not to threat­en pun­ish­ment if she or he lies, a study sug­gests: child­ren are more likely to tell the truth ei­ther to please an adult or be­cause they be­lieve it’s the right thing to do.

That’s what psy­chol­o­gists found through an ex­pe­ri­ment in­volv­ing 372 chil­dren be­tween the ages of 4 and 8.

“If chil­dren fear po­ten­tial neg­a­tive out­comes for dis­clos­ing in­forma­t­ion, they may be more re­luc­tant to dis­close,” the re­search­ers, led by Vic­to­ria Tal­war of McGill Uni­vers­ity in Can­a­da, wrote in a pa­per for the Feb. 2015 is­sue of the Jour­nal of Ex­pe­ri­men­tal Child Psy­chol­o­gy.

The re­search­ers left each child alone in a room for a min­ute with a toy be­hind them on a ta­ble, hav­ing told the child not to peek dur­ing their ab­sence. Ex­pe­ri­menters told some of the chil­dren they would “be in trou­ble” if they lied about that, while for oth­er young­sters the ex­pe­ri­menters men­tioned only pos­i­tive rea­sons for tell­ing the truth.

A hid­den vi­deo cam­era filmed what went on while the child was alone. Up­on re­turn­ing, the ex­pe­ri­menter would ask: “When I was gone, did you turn around and peak at the toy?”

About two-thirds of the chil­dren peeked, though for eve­ry one month in­crease in age, chil­dren be­came slightly less likely to peek, the study found. More­o­ver, about two-thirds of the peek­ers lied about hav­ing looked, and month-by-month as chil­dren aged, they both be­come more likely to tell lies and more ad­ept at main­tain­ing their lies.

The re­search­ers al­so found that the threat of be­ing “in trou­ble” alone led to more than twice the rate of ly­ing as the ap­peals to con­science or good feel­ings alone. Com­bina­t­ions of both types of in­duce­ments led to in-be­tween re­sults.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tors al­so ex­pected and found, they said, that while young­er chil­dren were more fo­cused on tell­ing the truth to please the adults, old­er chil­dren had bet­ter in­ter­nal­ized stan­dards of be­hav­ior that made them tell the truth be­cause it was the right thing to do.

“The bot­tom line is that pun­ish­ment does not pro­mote truth-tell­ing,” said Tal­war. “In fact, the threat of pun­ish­ment can have the re­verse ef­fect by re­duc­ing the like­li­hood that chil­dren will tell the truth when encoura­ged to do so.”

 

Reblog: What Are the REAL Odds of Being a Successful Author?

Okay, you have your new year’s resolution all set!  Now you are ready to go make a splash professionally.  Before you look at site statistics and let yourself feel overwhelmed, please take a look at what Kristen Lamb has to say about the odds of your success and how much control you really have over it.

 

I do not agree with everything in this article, but it is certainly worth thinking about.

What Are the REAL Odds of Being a Successful Author?

didn’t even consider becoming a writer until 1999 after my father passed away suddenly. Funny how death can make us take a hard look at life, right? Anyway, I recall feeling soooo overwhelmed. I mean my odds of even getting published were about as good as winning the lottery. And the odds of becoming a best-selling author? Well, mathematically speaking, I had a slightly greater chance of being mauled by a black bear and polar bear on the same day.

It was all I could do not to give up before I began.

But, after over 14 years doing this “writer thing,” I have a new perspective. Often it feels like we are the victims of fate, at the mercy of the universe, when actually it is pretty shocking how much of our own destiny we control.The good news is that if we can get in a habit of making good choices, it is staggering how certain habits can tip the odds of success in our favor.

Time to take a REAL look at our odds of success. Just so you know, this is highly unscientific, but I still think it will paint a pretty accurate picture. I will show you a bit of my own journey. And, to be blunt, this DOES NOT ONLY APPLY TO WRITERS.

Did you know most entrepreneurs fail at least three times before getting traction? Most new businesses don’t make it a year. They are fortunate to survive THREE years and if they can hit The Golden Six? Smoother from there. But WHY?

The 5% Rule

It has been statistically demonstrated that only 5% of any population is capable of sustained change.

I remember when I was a rather young writer and NYTBSA Bob Mayer introduced me to this idea. I was AGHAST! No, writers just needed nurturing, cuddling, and help. Trust me, it pains me to say he was/is right.

***But Bob is generally right and that is often why it ticks me off to admit this.***

I worked for years with self-professed writers who refused to learn, listen or even work. They had the skin of a grape and wanted to make it in an often undervalued profession that is NO place for the idle or thin-skinned.

Thus, with that in mind…

When we start out wanting to write, we are up against presumably millions of other people who want the same dream. We very literally have better odds of being elected to Congress than hitting the NY Times best-selling list. But I think that statement is biased and doesn’t take into account the choices we make.

As I just said, in the beginning, we are up against presumably millions of others who desire to write. Yes, millions. It is estimated that over ¾ of Americans say that they would one day like to write a book. And that is only ONE continent. Much of Europe, Australia and New Zealand are burgeoning markets in the new digital paradigm.

That’s a LOT of people. Ah, but how many do? How many decide to look beyond that day job? How many dare to take that next step?

Statistically? 5%

So only 5% of the millions of people who desire to write will ever even take the notion seriously. This brings us to the hundreds of thousands. But of the hundreds of thousands, how many who start writing a book will actually FINISH a book? How many will be able to take their dream seriously enough to lay boundaries for friends and family and hold themselves to a self-imposed deadline?

Statistically? 5%

Of that 5%, how many will join a critique group—A GOOD ONE—and learn instead of sulking?

5%

Okay, well now we are down to the tens of thousands. Looking a bit better. But, finishing a book isn’t all that is required. We have to be able to write a book that is publishable and meets industry/reader standards. When I first started writing, I thought that everyone who attended a writing critique group would be published. I mean they were saying they wanted to be best-selling authors.

But did they?

Or, were they more in love with the idea of being a best-selling author than actually doing whatever it took to succeed? I would love to say that I was a doer and not a talker, but I don’t want to get hit by lightning. There were a number of years that I grew very comfortable with being in a writing group as a writer…but not necessarily a professional writer.

I was still querying the same book that had been rejected time and time and time again.  I wrote when I felt inspired and didn’t approach my craft like a professional. I was, at best, a hobbyist and, at worst, hopelessly delusional.

I didn’t need craft books *snort* I spoke English, so I knew how to write. Geesh! *rolls eyes*

I was a member of two writing groups, and had grown very fond of this “writer life.” We hung out at I-Hop and drank lots of coffee. We’d all chat about what we’d do with our millions once we were bigger than Dan Brown. We talked about new ideas for books that never seemed to get written. Or if we ever did sit to write one of these ideas, we would get about 30,000 words in and then hit a wall.

Hmmm…and I thought that idea had so much promise.

Yet, after four years hearing the same talk from the same people shopping the same novels, I had a rude awakening. Maybe I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew. Maybe being a copy writer and technical writer and editor didn’t automatically make me a novel-writing genius. Maybe I needed to take this dream of being a best-selling writer a tad more seriously and not rely on bluster, BS and glitter. Maybe I needed to read craft books and scrape up enough money to go to a conference.

So, of the tens of thousands of writers who write a novel, how many read craft books and get serious enough to take classes, listen to thoughtful critique, and attend conferences?

You guys are good….5%

And of those who attend a conference (and want to traditionally publish), who are asked to send in page requests, how many follow through?

Likely, 5%

How many will land an agent right away?

5%

And of all of those authors rejected, how many writers, determined to impress, are willing to GUT their novel and wage wholesale slaughter on entire villages of Little Darlings? How many are willing to put that first novel in a drawer, learn from the experience and move forward with a new book…which they FINISH?

5%

And of the writers who land an agent or are brave enough to go indie or self-publish, how many of them get dead-serious about building a large social media platform?

Again? Probably 5%.

And of those writers who are published and doing social media, how many of them are effectively branding their names so their name alone will become a bankable asset (versus taking the easy way and spamming everyone in sight)?

5%

Of those who self-publish, how many will keep writing more books and better books until they hit a tipping point for success? (versus beating marketing one book to death)

5%

Of writers who self-publish, how many will invest in professional editing and cover art?

5%

Thus, when we really put this dream under some scrutiny, it is shocking to see all the different legs we control.

We control:

Taking the Decision Seriously

Writing the Book

Editing the Book

Finishing the Book

Learning the Craft

Developing RHINO SKIN

Networking

Following Through

Not Giving Up in the Face of Rejection

Writing Books

Writing More Books

Yes, Writing Even MORE Books

Doing Everything in Our Power to Lay a Foundation for a Successful Career

I am not saying that finishing a book is easy. None of this is easy.

This job is a lot of hard work and sacrifice, which is exactly why most people will never be genuine competition. When we start out and see all the millions of other writers I think we are in danger of giving up or getting overwhelmed. Actually, if we focus on the decisions we control, our odds improve drastically.

This job is like one giant funnel. Toss in a few million people with a dream and only a handful will shake out at the end. Is it because fortune smiled on them? A few, yes. But, for most, the harder they worked, the “luckier” they got. They stuck it out and made the tough choices.

In the Sahara there is a particularly long stretch of desert that is completely flat. There are no distinguishing landmarks and it is very easy to get lost. To combat the problem, the French Foreign Legion placed large black oil drums every mile so that travelers could find their way across this massive expanse of wasteland one oil drum at a time.

Are we there yet?

 

Want to be a successful author?

Take it one oil drum at a time.

What are some oil drums you now see ahead? Does your journey to author success seem easier now? What makes you feel overwhelmed? What inspires you?

Repost: Birds diversified in “big bang” after dinosaurs died out

Birds diversified in big bang after dinosaurs died out.

Reposted from World Science.

A ma­jor new study sheds new light on how and when birds evolved and ac­quired fea­tures such as feath­ers, flight and song, sci­en­tists say.

The study charts a burst of ev­o­lu­tion that took place af­ter the di­no­saurs sud­denly died out, about 66 mil­lion years ago. Sci­en­tists say this burst oc­curr­ed as new forms exploited op­port­uni­ties left open by the absence of the din­o­saurs, some of which were the an­cest­ors of these same birds. With­in 10 mil­lion years, re­search­ers found, the avian ex­plos­ion created rep­re­sen­ta­tives of nearly all the ma­jor bird lin­eages with us to­day.

The four-year proj­ect de­cod­ed and com­pared the en­tire ge­net­ic fin­ger­print of 48 bird spe­cies to rep­re­sent all these lin­eages—in­clud­ing the wood­peck­er, owl, pen­guin, hum­ming­bird and fla­min­go.

Re­search­ers al­so com­pared these genomes with those of three oth­er rep­tile spe­cies and hu­mans.

They found that bird­song evolved se­pa­rate­ly at least twice. Par­rots and song­birds gained the abil­ity to learn and mim­ic vo­cal ac­ti­vity in­de­pend­ently of hum­ming­birds, de­spite shar­ing many of the same genes.

The find­ings are con­sid­ered im­por­tant be­cause some of brain pro­cesses that are in­volved in bird sing­ing are al­so as­so­ci­at­ed with hu­man speech.

Birds are the most ge­o­graph­ic­ally di­verse group of land an­i­mals. They help sci­en­tists in­ves­t­i­gate fun­da­men­tal ques­tions in bi­ol­o­gy and ecol­o­gy and they are al­so a ma­jor glob­al food re­source, pro­vid­ing meat and eggs.

More than 200 sci­en­tists con­tri­but­ed to the Avi­an Phy­loge­nomics Proj­ect, which was led by BGI in Shen­zhen, Chi­na, the Uni­vers­ity of Co­pen­ha­gen, Duke Uni­vers­ity in North Car­o­li­na, the How­ard Hughes Med­i­cal In­sti­tute based in Chevy Chase, Md., and the Nat­u­ral His­to­ry Mu­se­um of Den­mark. The find­ings are pub­lished in 23 sci­en­tif­ic pa­pers, in­clud­ing eight in the jour­nal Sci­ence.

Build­ing on this re­search, sci­en­tists at the Na­t­ional Avi­an Re­search Facil­ity in Ed­in­burgh have cre­at­ed 48 da­tabases to share and ex­pand on the in­forma­t­ion as­so­ci­at­ed with the birds’ genomes. They hope that re­search­ers from around the world will con­tin­ue to up­load their own da­ta, of­fer­ing fur­ther in­sights to the ge­net­ics of mod­ern birds.

Such in­forma­t­ion is ex­pected to be use­ful for help­ing sci­en­tists to un­der­stand why in­fec­tious dis­eases, such as bird flu, af­fect some spe­cies but not oth­ers.

“This is just the be­gin­ning. We hope that giv­ing peo­ple the tools to ex­plore this wealth of bird gene in­forma­t­ion in one place will stim­u­late fur­ther re­search,” said Da­vid Burt, act­ing di­rec­tor of the Na­t­ional Avi­an Re­search Facil­ity at the Uni­vers­ity of Ed­in­burgh’s Roslin In­sti­tute.

“Ul­ti­mately, we hope the re­search will br­ing im­por­tant in­sights to help im­prove the health and wel­fare of wild and farmed birds.”

How NOT to get promotion for yourself and your book …

A few nice guidelines for author etiquette. I do disagree with the point at the end that says that if you think your book is good then therefore it is not.  There is a difference between self confidence and arrogance.  Believe in yourself, believe in your work while communicating humility and gratitude.

How NOT to get promotion for yourself and your book ….

Repost: Voice may reveal who has clout

Yesterday I blogged a link to Richard Mann’s Radio Reflections which he not only presented, but produced as well.  So it seems fitting that today I should repost a report on some fascinating research, much of it done in the UK, on how our voices reflect social status and power — and perhaps why Margaret Thatcher was able to lead so effectively.

 

Voice May Reveal Who Has Clout
Be­ing in a po­si­tion of pow­er can change the sound of your voice, and lis­ten­ers of­ten pick up on that to fig­ure out who is really in charge, new re­search finds.

We tend to fo­cus on our words when we want to come across as pow­erful, but the find­ings sug­gest acous­tic cues are al­so im­por­tant. Mark­ers of more pow­erful po­si­tion, for ex­am­ple, may in­clude a higher and louder voice.

“Whether it’s par­ents at­tempt­ing to as­sert au­thor­ity over un­ruly chil­dren, hag­gling be­tween a car sales­man and cus­tom­er, or ne­gotia­t­ions be­tween heads of states, the sound of the voices in­volved may pro­foundly de­ter­mine the out­come of those in­ter­ac­tions,” said lead re­searcher Sei Jin Ko of San Die­go State Uni­vers­ity in Ca­li­for­nia.

It was form­er U.K. prime min­is­ter Mar­ga­ret That­cher who in­spired the re­search. “It was quite well known that That­cher had gone through ex­ten­sive voice coach­ing to ex­ude a more au­thoritative, pow­erful per­sona,” ex­plained Ko. “We wanted to ex­plore how some­thing so fun­da­men­tal as pow­er might elic­it changes in the way a voice sounds, and how these situa­t­ional vo­cal changes im­pact the way lis­ten­ers per­ceive and be­have to­ward the speak­ers.”

Ko, along with Mel­o­dy Sadler of San Die­go State and Ad­am Galin­sky of Co­lum­bia Busi­ness School, de­signed two stud­ies to find out. The findings were pub­lished Nov. 20 online in the jour­nal Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence.

In a first ex­pe­ri­ment, the investigators recorded 161 col­lege stu­dents read­ing a pas­sage aloud; this first re­cord­ing cap­tured their voice be­fore any par­tic­u­lar high-or-low pow­er sta­tus was ev­i­dent. The par­ti­ci­pants were then ran­domly as­signed a high- or low-sta­tus role in a ne­gotia­t­ion game.

Stu­dents as­signed to a “high” rank were told to go in­to the ne­gotia­t­ion im­ag­in­ing that they ei­ther had a strong al­ter­na­tive of­fer, val­u­a­ble in­side in­forma­t­ion, or high sta­tus in the work­place, or they were asked to re­call an ex­perience in which they had pow­er be­fore the ne­gotia­t­ion started. Low-rank stu­dents, on the oth­er hand, were told to im­ag­ine they had ei­ther a weak of­fer, no in­side in­forma­t­ion, or low work­place sta­tus, or they were asked to re­call an ex­perience in which they lacked pow­er.

The stu­dents then read a sec­ond pas­sage aloud, as if they were lead­ing off ne­gotia­t­ions with their im­ag­i­nary ad­ver­sary, and their voices were recorded. Eve­ry­one read the same open­ing, al­low­ing the re­search­ers to ex­am­ine acous­tics while hold­ing the speech con­tent the same.

The re­search­ers found that the voices of stu­dents as­signed to high-pow­er roles tended to go up in pitch, be­come less var­i­a­ble in pitch, and be­come more var­i­a­ble in loud­ness than the oth­ers’ voices.

“A­maz­ingly, pow­er af­fect­ed our par­ti­ci­pants’ voices in al­most the ex­act same way that That­cher’s voice changed af­ter her vo­cal train­ing,” said Galin­sky.

And the stu­dents’ vo­cal cues did­n’t go un­no­ticed. A sec­ond ex­pe­ri­ment with a sep­a­rate group of col­lege stu­dents re­vealed that lis­ten­ers, who had no knowl­edge of the first ex­pe­ri­ment, were able to pick up on these pow­er-related vo­cal cues to de­ter­mine who did and did not have pow­er: Lis­ten­ers ranked speak­ers who had been as­signed to the high-rank group as more likely to en­gage in high-pow­er be­hav­iors, and they were able to cat­e­go­rize wheth­er a speak­er had high or low rank with con sidera­ble ac­cu­ra­cy.

In line with the vo­cal changes ob­served in the first ex­pe­ri­ments, lis­ten­ers tended to as­so­ci­ate high­er pitch and voices that var­ied in loud­ness with high-pow­er be­hav­iors. They al­so as­so­ci­ated louder voices with high­er pow­er.

“These find­ings sug­gest that lis­ten­ers are quite per­cep­tive to these sub­tle varia­t­ions in vo­cal cues and they use these cues to de­cide who is in charge,” said Galin­sky.

 

 

Repost: Men’s Y Chromosome May Be A Vulnerability

Reposted from “Men’s Y Chromosome May Be A Vulnerability” 

 

4th December 2014, World Science Journal

New re­search sug­gests the Y chro­mo­some—a re­pos­i­tory of genes that only males have—may help ex­plain why men live less long than wom­en, and are more sus­cep­ti­ble to smok­ing-related can­cers.

With ad­vanc­ing age, some cells can lose their Y chro­mo­some. Two new studies sug­gest this loss may in­crease can­cer risk—and that smok­ing may ex­ac­er­bate the chro­mo­some loss. Both pro­jects came from the same group of re­search­ers, and while they did not prove cause-and-ef­fect rela­t­ion­ships, they found as­socia­t­ions be­tween the events in ques­tion.

The ear­li­er stu­dy, pub­lished in the re­search jour­nal Na­ture Ge­net­ics on­line April 28, “demon­strated an as­socia­t­ion be­tween loss of the Y chro­mo­some in blood and great­er risk for can­cer,” said Lars Fors­berg of Upp­sa­la Uni­vers­ity in Swe­den, one of the in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

For the sec­ond proj­ect, pub­lished in the Dec. 4 is­sue of the re­search jour­nal Sci­ence, he added that the group tested “if there were any lifestyle- or clin­i­cal fac­tors that could be linked to loss of the Y chro­mo­some.”

The re­sult: “Out of a large num­ber of fac­tors that were stud­ied, such as age, blood pres­sure, di­a­be­tes, al­co­hol in­take and smok­ing, we found that loss of the Y chro­mo­some in a frac­tion of the blood cells was more com­mon in smok­ers than in non-smok­ers.”

Y chro­mo­some loss is “the most com­mon hu­man muta­t­ion” to beg­in with, added Jan Du­man­ski, a co-re­searcher at Upp­sa­la. The new work “may in part ex­plain why men in gen­er­al have a shorter life span than wom­en, and why smok­ing is more dan­ger­ous for men.”

Smok­ing is a risk fac­tor for var­i­ous dis­eases, not only lung can­cer, the re­search­ers not­ed; male smok­ers have shown a great­er risk of de­vel­op­ing non-respiratory-tract can­cers than female smok­ers.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tors found the as­socia­t­ion be­tween smok­ing and Y chro­mo­some loss to be “dose de­pen­den­t”—heavy smok­ers had more wide­spread losses. But ex-smok­ers who had quit showed nor­mal lev­els of Y chro­mo­some loss. So “this pro­cess might be re­versible,” which “could be very per­sua­sive for mo­ti­vat­ing smok­ers to quit,” said Fors­berg.

How the smok­ing-induced Y chro­mo­some loss in blood cells is linked to can­cer re­mains un­clear. Per­haps im­mune cells in blood, be­reft of Y chro­mo­somes, are less able to fight can­cer cells, the sci­en­tists spec­u­lat­ed.

Not so innocent: Israel, genocide, and the myth of the “chosen people”

Growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska and attending Temple Baptist Church, I grew up with the same beliefs that many Evangelical Christians hold towards Israel:  Israel is the promised land of the descendants of Abraham.  When I read in the books of Joshua and Judges about the legendary conquest of Palestine by the Hebrews after their 40 years wandering in the wilderness, no one seemed to even notice that these military campaigns of conquest amounted to GENOCIDE where civilians, including and especially women and children, were put to the sword so the Hebrews could come in and take their land.  This was GOD’S WILL and therefore it was okay.  If God wants it, the killing is moral and just, right?

In my 20 years in the Church, no one ever questioned this doctrine.  No one ever said “hey, wait, these are war crimes.”  Instead since it was divinely mandated, it must be right — and historically true, of course.

This sentiment is echoed in temples, both reform and orthodox, especially at Hanukkah and Passover.  Israel belongs to the Jews as a right forged in an ancient covenant with God.  Jews are the Chosen People.

Being the “Chosen People” of God carries a lot of weight.  Being chosen means you are granted a measure of special grace from God, the right to do certain things without consequences.  You can kill as you please because God wants you to.

Now before anyone gets in a huff and calls me anti-Jewish, let me be very clear:  I love Jewish culture, food, tradition, and especially my many Jewish friends and acquaintances.  I lived for over four years in a orthodox Jewish neighbourhood in Brooklyn, New York as not only a gentile, but one of the Old Religion of Britain and Ireland who strives to honour and embrace the British-Irish part of my heritage in my day-t0-day life.

As a historian who often favours being the outsider because of the objectivity this offers me for learning and study, I was able to listen, learn, and observe without the social-psychological chains that often blurs most people’s perspective.  I have no agenda except discovering the truth.  This is why my writing is so powerful and my books are to be believed.  I’m not a slick politician or sales person trying to sell something to you; just an honest researcher looking for truth.

The Bible of course covers ancient history — legendary or literal is a matter of debate.  Yet in Christian churches and in many Jewish congregations as well this doctrine that Israel is the God-given promised land of the Hebrews/Jews persists.

This Zionist idea that Israel rightfully belongs to Jews transcends denominational differences and enters the realm of politics.  Israel has certain rights to behave in whatever is perceived as its own interests.  To gainsay Israel’s decisions is to be anti-Jewish.  I am here to say that nothing could be further from the truth.

Last week I found the above video in a facebook feed exploring the modern state of Israel’s history.  In it and you discover that Israel is hardly this innocent and moral God-blessed nation who can do no wrong.  Far from it.  Objectively speaking, the Israelis are guilty of genocide and war crimes such as the West typically condemns when done by any other nation — except Israel.

Indeed anyone from any country who even remotely questions what Israel does is quickly labelled as anti-Jewish, especially politicians.  It would seem that to be pro-Jewish means not noticing Israel’s faults — or its war crimes.

 

I stand here asking you to now question that dogma.  Take a step back towards objectivity. When Iraqis do this to its peoples, when Syrians do this in its civil war, when Russia treats a minority group this way, DO WE NOT CALL THEM WAR CRIMES and CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY?

 

Perhaps it is time to abolish this whole “chosen people” propaganda and instead look at all human beings as humans.  No one is expendable.  Life is life!  Every single human in this world deserves a decent and safe home, clean and nourishing food and water, the best possible education, decent clothing, safety from harm, and the chance to live a satisfying life.  Anyone who steals any of these things from anyone else needs to be sanctioned and dealt with.  Everyone has the right to live.  Everyone.