The Comfort Zone

The Comfort ZoneThere is strange limbo of a zone that is not quite like being either in or out of the zone. Many people can wallow in this place for years.

When we sit in our Comfort Zone, we are both at peace with the world while also not challenging it, and perhaps experiencing it to the full. If we don’t stick our heads above the parapet, nobody can take a pop at us.

If the Comfort Zone was a place, it would sit geographically between a Doing Zone and a Danger Zone. It is safe harbour and somewhere we can’t get hurt whilst also not truly shining our light.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Some choose to spend their whole lifetimes in the Comfort Zone. Why rock the boat? Why take risks? It something isn’t broken, why attempt to fix it?

There is quite a close similarity between the Comfort Zone and a Being Zone. The difference though is subtle.

When we spend too long in the Comfort Zone, we can atrophy. On an individual basis, stimulation and change promotes good mental and physical health which, in turn, fosters good health, well being and longevity. Collectively, the human spirit strives to know and achieve more in each generation. This means that it is natural that things have to change. When they do, we find we have to wander into new, uncharted territories.

This is not about change for change’s sake. Many human activities have proven to have a negative impact on our health and environment. Our modern world has many faults but they are perhaps outweighed by our marvelous achievements, all of which have required some brave souls to step out of their Comfort Zone.

The technology of war ironically has some surprising peace-time spin offs but many have lost their lives in the process of such ’advancement’. Many surgical techniques were first pioneered on the battlefield. The use of fossil fuels has given us mass transportation but at the expense of an altered environment. Our use of natural resources has brought, for many, an improvement in well being. It has also scarred the planet and many species have been decimated as a consequence. Many peoples have lost their natural homelands too.

It’s clear then that stepping out of our Comfort Zone has to be done with care and diligence. What helps us take the right steps in the right direction is having purpose and high intent. It may be altruistic but it helps to take steps out of our Comfort Zone with the aim of helping others, and only ourselves in the process.

When we move out of the zone and make our intentions clear, we will find support from those around us should we stumble. Any faux pas will only serve to strengthen our resolve and show us the right path should we wander down a blind alley. We may be entertaining others with our art or teaching others with our learnings and research. We may be inventing the next amazing life changing gadget.

Without doing a survey, it is common sense that there are many more half-finished manuscripts than published books. There are many more patents that never made it off the drawing board than inventions in use in some form or other today.

Many of us will sit back and let someone else carry to baton. There are over 7 billion of us and some people have a natural disposition to lead, to explore and to be change-makers. The explorations of the zones in this book are designed to help those who want to get out their armchairs and off their sofas to make something happen.

My new book, The Zone will introduces the qualities needed to escape your Comfort Zone by wandering into in a Doing Zone. By exploring the Danger Zones, the book gives strategies to help cope when the wheels come off the bus.

The last section of the look explores the Being Zones. These are a place where we reach a new level of comfort. We find then a Comfort Zone that exceeds all our expectations. These are places where we make change by just being who we came into this world to be.

The Zone is available for Kindle, Kindle readers, in print and as an audiobook with guided meditations.

The Zone Kindle Touch

Publish a book in a month

This We Know on an iPadLast year I wrote and published a book I had no idea I was about to write. I started writing it on the 3rd September and it was ready for publication on the 17th.

It shot into the top 10 books in Philosophy on the UK Kindle store by the end of September and the amazing reviews tell of the impact it is having on readers.

Here’s how I it came to pass …

Step 1: Have a Cracking Idea
I was watching my lovely partner snoozing on the sofa and wondered how many other people were also asleep right at that time. I also wondered how many people who were awake were also really ‘asleep’.
Step 2: Have an Immovable Deadline
I was presenting a workshop on creativity on the 27th September at Sadler’s Wells at the Transformational Media Summit and wondered if I could write a book with a big message – and get it published in time so I could use it as a case study for the journalists attending.
Step 3: Don’t Write a Big Book
To print a title and author name on the spine, you need about 100 pages or so. This equates to around 10,000-12,000 words. My aim was to write a book that could be read in a single commute or sitting.
Step 4: Learn How to Bend Time
I have been studying how we perceive the passage of time and I know some psychological and physiological ways to stretch time so we can get more done in less linear time. See Bending Time to find out how you can do this too.
Step 5: Write Short Chapters
A short chapter can be written and read in one session. What I do is meditate before each writing session for 20 minutes and I can then generate around 1000 words in an hour or so. The chapters in this book were actually around 500 words long so they could be re-syndicated in a blog.
Step 6: Review but Don’t Edit
Before writing each chapter, I review the previous chapter so I don’t duplicate and I ensure continuity and fluidity over the whole book. I only edit massive faux pas but don’t try and proof read or edit the whole. Incidentally, I normally Mind Map my books but this time it just came from ‘nowhere’.
Step 7: Know When To Finish
With epublication and print on demand, subsequent editions are easy. So when the 10,000 words or so are done and the base story is told, that’s time to wrap on this edition.
Step 8: Get Someone Else to Proof Read It
It’s impossible to mark your own homework so get professional, or a friend or colleague with an eye for detail, to read it and sanity check that it’s a Good Book and tells a solid story.
Step 9: Format It Nicely and Upload It to a PoD or ePub service
I use the CompletelyNovel print on demand service for my print books as it is so easy – and support is brilliant. Books normally arrive in 5 to 7 days. I uploaded it on the 17th of September and the box below arrived on the 20th in just three days!!
Step 10: Spread The Word
After finding a couple of other errors in the print books (so much easier than on screen), I uploaded it to the Amazon KDP platform and by the 21st September, it was available to download globally for less than the price of a cup of coffee. A few tweets and Facebook posts later and the reviews started flying in.

First delivery of This We Know

Five Ways to Sex Up Your eBook

Boring ebookThe greyscale display of the Kindle and some other e-ink readers, with their somewhat primitive formatting options, present somewhat of a challenge for book designers, publishers and authors.

There are however a few simple things we can do to create much fancier-looking, eye-catching and more readable books.

Note that I am no graphic designer and these tips won’t generate anything like a carefully crafted print book but they will make the book reading process more enjoyable for the reader.

Note too that the screenshots here are blatantly self-promotional from my own books – I am just practicing what I preach!

1. Judging a book by its cover

The book cover is the first thing that registers with our unconscious mind. Getting it right is key and both an art and a science. There has to be good contrast between any graphics or text and the title and author name has to be legible in a range of sizes.

Tip 1 : make sure your cover works equally well on greyscale and colour devices – and in thumbnail

Colour Mono Thumbnail ebooks

2. Table your contents

With no pages to thumb through, we have to give the reader an easy way to navigate around their books. Including a hyperlinked table of contents is not a nice-to-have or option but a given.

Tip 2 : get a copy of Scrivener which not only generates all ebook formats but also generates hyperlinked tables of contents

Planes of Being ToC

3. Use graphics for chapter titles

Use a graphic for each chapter title (and any quotes)

Tip 3 : if you don’t know how to generate graphics, sub it out to someone on or

Graphic Chapter Titles

4. A picture tells a thousand words

Use an image and graphics to tell part of the story and augment the text, making sure that you follow guidelines for image resolution. Use colour where possible than renders well in greyscale. Also make sure you check copyright and I’ve listed the photo libraries I mainly use below.

Tip 4 : use the free Kindle Previewer to check your graphics in colour and greyscale and on a range of devices

Kindle Previewer

5. Keep it short and consistent

Make chapters roughly the same length and use sub-headings to break long chapters into chunks. This works best for non-fiction but can apply to some fiction too.

Tip 5 : read your book to yourself out loud. If you find you are pausing for breath at any point or get lost or bored, the reader will too!

5 Tips for Publishing on Kindle

Kindle Course Cathy PreslandYou would be forgiven to think that someone who has published eight books on Kindle would know all that there was about publishing and Amazon’s KDP platform.

Well let me disavow you of that notion.

Sure I know how to write a book, format it and upload it for sure but when it comes to book promotion, I confess that I pretty much make it up as I go along – I am still learning.

Now I had pretty good initial success with my latest book, This We Know. A month after I wrote and published it (incidentally which took less than a month), the book got over 30 reviews [UK & US] and not a bad ranking in the charts in its genre.
This We Know Amazon
Since then, like many books, it’s been sliding down into the Amazon noise floor. Like many authors, I was getting despondent and wondering what to do and what I was doing wrong.

Finding Udemy

Then out of the blue, I had an email inviting me to look at Udemy. Less than a month later, I had uploaded three of my own courses – see here … but then a real bonus came in.

I started to connect with other fabulous instructors and to discover their marvelous course materials. One that jumped out and grabbed me straight away was Cathy Presland’s course  – Publish Your Book on Kindle

Not only does it cover everything you need to know about formatting your book, which is great if you haven’t done it before, but there’s a whole load of really useful information for “old hands” like me on selling and promotion.

I’ve only implemented a couple of the tips this weekend and already sales have started to come in again – eternal thanks Cathy.

I love too the way you share success stories of your students – you are a god send to all authors.

Five Things I Didn’t Know About Publishing on Kindle

  1. How to get eyeballs on my book
  2. How to do a proper Best Seller campaign
  3. How I am not the only one to have made mistakes in the past, so not to give myself such a hard time
  4. How to get people to sign up to your email list from your book – courtesy of Steve Reeves
  5. How it can lead to creating passive income from your writing & blogs – courtesy of Tom Ewer

So whether you are a new author starting out or an existing author, this course should be high on your list of investments this year.

Learn how to really Publish Your Book on the Kindle here

p.s. I am only recommending this course because I purchased it myself.

p.p.s. This is an affiliate link so there is a revenue share for me if you decide to purchase it too. I am pointing this out because if you like the course, as much as I did, you can do just the same.

Frequently Bought Together

There are many proud moments in an author’s career like when you finish your first draft, when the first copy of your book arrives in the post or when you get your first review.

I was on Amazon this morning and I felt a pang of pride I simply have to share with you and it’s seeing that Amazon are listing that my three non-fiction books as being “Frequently Bought Together”.

Now I’ve no idea how many people have to do this before the Amazon algorithm kicks in – it might just be one!! It is however a significant milestone in any author’s strategy.

In the best selling author John Locke’s book, How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months, his advice is not to even attempt this with one book.

So my advice to all authors is this :

1. If you are just starting out – think how you can write a series – publishers and readers alike will love you for it

2. If you have written one book and want to sell more copies – write at least two more

3. If your book is out in print only, make sure it’s available for the Kindle too (as it can be then read on all devices)

Note that your books don’t have to be published with the same publisher or a linked sequence of titles – it’s best if they follow a particular theme or logical progression though …

For example, my books flow like this:

Blocks – clear barriers to creativity

Flavours of Thought – understand not all thoughts are the same

Light Bulb Moments – tune into a special class of thoughts that take you on amazing leaps of imagination and creativity

P.S. the fourth book is being crafted right now and it extends the thoughts in these three to a whole other level … watch this space and I can’t wait until Amazon list all four as being Frequently Bought Together 😉

Afterword in 2013 – here is that book Planes of Being and another I didn’t even plan to write called This We Know

P.P.S. Not even two years after I wrote this blog, I find Amazon recommending not just three but five of my books to people via emailfrequentlyBought