Archive for the 'Writing' Category

May 28 2013

So you want to be an author?




Your great idea will surely fly if you can just sit still long enough to make it into a book. Maybe it will even be a movie!? Well, if you’re already writing a book, you know that writin’ books ain’t no piece a cake. What you maybe don’t know is that sellin’ ’em is a nightmare . . . even if you happen to be a professional salesperson!

Many entrepreneur types might disagree with that thinking, but it’s hardly ever an entrepreneur that writes a book. So reasonable risk-taking is not even an issue. It’s really all about shifting gears in your work schedule and transitioning your mind to an unfriendly and foreign range of engagement. In other words, get ready to suck it up!

Even long after you’ve Googled your brain into delirium trying to figure out all the pros and cons of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing, and after you’ve investigated and perhaps actually tried some “crowd sourcing” adventures, the bottom line is that WRITING the book is the easy part! SELLING it is the real challenge.

For one thing, disenchanted authors often find themselves swimming upstream against well-intentioned reminders embedded in their friends’ and family’s declarations of “it takes money to make money!” And these comments are no doubt accompanied by tsk-tsk head-shakes, knowing nods, and pitter-pat changes in discussion topics.

Oh, and then there’s those football coach-like claps on the shoulders. “It’s gonna be okay, boy!” OR “You go, girl!”—- “Y’all just need to put that writin’ stuff in a drawer and git on with life! Maybe someday, it’ll work, y’know?” Well, maybe someday it will. BUT if “them there is fightin’ words” to you, getting on with life means that someday is today, is now.

(It means you aren’t buying into depression-ridden chatter.)

Ta-ta-ta-dah  ta-dah! You’re brave. You’re courageous. And maybe stupid, but so what? If you’re ready to dig in, dig in! Start working an extra hour at night instead of watching TV news. carry a notebook or smart phone “pad” and jot down ideas as they pop into your head all day, every day, and keep it bedside for insomniac nights.

Here’s where it all comes together. Writing the book. Selling the book. Write and REwrite your brains out. Then devise two marketing plans, two sales plans, and two PR/publicity plans. The first of each of these is a CREATIVE plan (what to say and how to say it). The second of each is an IMPLEMENTATION plan (where, when, and how to distribute the creative plan results).

So, for example, plan what you say for a meaningful drum-up-sales interview, and how you will say it, then go out and drum up the interview. A book signing requires a table, chair, signage, pens, single dollar bills and rolls of coins, a pleasant appearance, beverages and snack foods. A news release had better be newsworthy! Your Tweets better be provocative!

Remember people DO judge a book by its cover! (And you, your in-person and online appearance, and behavior are all part of your cover.) Lest you think this is “all talk,” please visit my new book-for-sale site HERE!  Thank you!

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Apr 09 2013

The 6th of 10 Things Nobody Tells Entrepreneurs


(for the wrong reasons.)


Dear Business Owners and Managers: Stop with the knee-jerk decisions to hire consultants. They will not help you through the economy unless they are specialists at bringing sales in your door!

Until at least a couple of years down the road,  there is no need for “communication consultants” or “management trainers” or “personal growth and development consultants” or people to write your mission statement, your vision statement, your annual reports or your “white papers.”

How do I know? Because I’ve done all of the above (and made a successful career of it), but I also have run my own business for 35 years, and helped to start hundreds of others. I’ve run management and communication and personal growth and development training programs for 20,000 people. And I’ll be the first to tell you not to waste your time and money on these services, in this economy.

There is only one thing you need consultant support for these days, and that is for services that bring you sales. Period.

That having also been said,  I will be so bold as to suggest that communications and marketing generalists are also not the kinds of “sales consultants” to trust. Find a specialist. Do not EVER hire a marketing or communications consulting firm to do your website. Get a website specialist. Do not EVER hire a website specialist to write your website content. Get a writer who understands sales.

A good, proven commercial / marketing / advertising / website writer can do more for your business than all the ad agencies, marketing and communication consultants and non-sales trainers you can find put together! You need writing help? Hire a writer!

There is a growing temptation to panic at the financial strangulation your cutbacks have created, and grasp at any outside service that –like the frustrated wife whose husband  was a marketing executive and could only ever sit on the edge of the bed and talk about how great it would be– you simply cannot afford right now.

Promises do not perform. Providers with track-records for creating and delivering sales perform, and are worth paying! Look for a successful writer who is a quick study and who shows you she or he can learn your business promptly, who has a customer benefit focus instead of a chest-beating, “how great your business is” and product / service features focus.

You want someone who can help you develop sales strategies and create the tactics that support that thinking. You want someone who is not afraid to work weekends or evenings to get the job done.

You want someone who will take the extra step, go the extra mile, and give you more than what you expect … someone who is both a talented writer and an example of what you want and expect from a sales pro … someone who counts your sales as the priority mission.

Anyone who fits this profile,  by the way, should also be receptive to at least partial compensation based on performance. I know a lot of consultants will hate me for this post, but –down deep– they’ll have to admit that I speak the truth.


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Mar 22 2013




GEEKSPEAK. It’s another name for Tech Talk. Too many tech people are talking to too many tech people in too much tech-eeze and the real world of small business owners, professional practice principals, and even top corporate management is passing them by. If you are looking to make sales and grow your business, think twice about GEEKSPEAK overload.

In other words, don’t let website designers write words for your content. They haven’t a clue about effective marketing writing. Don’t let IT people decide on what and how to communicate with clients and customers and prospects. They know not where they come from . . . nor, it often seems, where they’re going when it comes to clarifying issues for non-IT people!

Don’t let your business messages get caught up in branding lines, site content, collateral/promotional material copy or news release text that contains language your grandmother wouldn’t understand. Nothing is so complicated that it can’t be simplified. Nothing is too technical to be communicated in easy-to-understand language.

When I ask you what time it is,

don’t tell me how to make a clock!


It simply takes more time and is harder work. But it’s often the difference between an enthusiastic buyer and a puzzled, overwhelmed one. Suffice it to say that all communication — interpersonal, impersonal, and otherwise, takes more time and is more work. Decide on what you want as a result, and if the extra effort is worth it.

Promoting and presenting complicated diagrams and examples only serves to underscore an oblivious, uncaring attitude to the markets you’re trying to reach. What’s the old axiom? Keep it simple, stupid! And don’t make the excuse that the prospects you seek understand tech talk because odds are pretty good that their bosses who need to approve purchase decisions don’t.

Sourcing people ultimately report to financial and/or operations people who hold the purse-strings. If those folks don’t understand a GEEKSPEAK message, they simply shut down their budgets. And why not? Would you buy something for your home or car that you have no sense of value about, can’t relate to, or fail to understand what you’re getting for your money?

Bite the bullet and give your business communications — especially to your customers, clients, and prospects — the extra effort that will make what you have to say clear from the git go. Not sure if what you’re saying comes across? Ask your grandmother.

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Nov 25 2012

Headed Down Your Business Homestretch

Help Jumpstart


My Kickstarter


For many businesspeople, asking for help may come easy, but rarely is it easy for an entrepreneur.

For an entrepreneur, such a request can translate into “having to swallow my pride,” “getting someone to do what I can do better,” “having to trust someone else with my baby,” “admitting a weakness,” or “owning up to my own inadequacies.”

So what? Who appointed you as “Perfect”?

When you consider that all of the above suggested excuses (which I have heard often over my years of business and professional practice development consulting . . . and have admittedly tried myself on occasion) reduce themselves to unproductive ego-based thinking and behavior.

Remember your grandfather telling you:

“No man is an island”?


Ego-maniacal thinking and behavior of course tends to dominate early-on entrepreneurship pursuits until experience and reality sink in and struggling entrepreneurs begin to realize that it’s the idea that’s important, and that any (legal) way to achieve success –regardless of others that need to be relied on– is the right way to go.

For entrepreneurs,

results tend to outweigh process.


Interestingly, the opposite tends to be true in government and corporate life where more relience is placed on analysis of available options than on getting the job done (e.g. deciding which committee to study an emerging market becomes folly in the face of an entrepreneurial spirit that simply drives itself into the heart of the market and adjusts along the way.

I have learned a great deal in the first half of my Amazon Kickstarter site effort that literally requires nerves of steel for me to implement in completing the second half of the effort. Stuff I forgot: Ask for the sale. Ask again. And again. Drive as many people as possible to visit or experience your message. Adjust and improvise. Switch gears. Ask for the sale. Ask again.

Why “nerves of steel”? I’m a creator, not Superman, not Zig Ziglar, not (Thank Heaven!) Steve Jobs, not an award-winning super-salesperson or winning candidate. I’m just a small business owner.

I’m me. I don’t like asking. I have to conjure up massive amounts of courage to approach my friends and family, and online contacts (even strangers) to buy into something I created. I know in my heart that what I have to offer is worthy. I know it’s a great dollar-value. And, yes, the Kickstarter race against the clock means it’s “make it or break it” time. It still feels awkward.

But –ahhh I’ve always taught that behavior is a choice, so it’s time to get over all that and step up to the plate, right? Okay, so here it is —

Will YOU please help me jumpstart my Kickstarter by visiting this site NOW and making a pledge of some kind  —EVEN JUST ONE DOLLAR!??

In the interests of your love for the arts and creative development, will you also please urge your friends and contacts to visit my Kickstarter site NOW?

I will be forever grateful for this very important bit of support.

Thank you!

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Nov 20 2012

My Special Thanksgiving Thanks . . .

I am thankful for my


 Kickstarter Backers!


Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope it is a time of great rest, relaxation, reassessment and re-energizing for entrepreneurial leaders everywhere. Certainly, it is a time for family, friends, and appreciation . . . a time for prayer and caring and tolerance.  

Thanksgiving is for me personally —and most of all— a time for saying thank you to those who have locked arms with me through the two years of harsh realities and trauma that ended with Kathy’s death this past March.  

It is only because of that allegiance and outpouring of love and support for my personal and business survival that I have indeed survived. It is with full and deep appreciation for all that Kathy meant to me and the joy she brought to my life, that these friendships and offerings of time and help, and support (even food!) have prompted me to do what she urged of me consistently (but that I unwittingly resisted) over her last two years: to move on! 

AMAZON Kickstarter, as many of you know, has enabled me to step forward with the wonderful book manuscript –HIGH TIDE— that occupied thousands of hours of my spare time (and much of Kath’s) over the past twelve years. But Kickstarter is just a platform, a format.  

It took a concerted effort by a small army of close friends and family members to give me the faith and incentive and encouragement to bring that format to life… to move on. As it stands this minute:  it works!         

In the middle of my Kickstarter website, you’ll find a lengthy list of individuals who stayed with me through the long haul and who passed me the torch to light up HIGH TIDE

Many others, too many to list here, have eagerly jumped on the bandwagon to help. They know who they are. I will thank each publicly as soon as I can get through the Kickstarter project, regardless of outcome.  

I will simply say here and now that I am deeply grateful to each of you who have taken the time from your own busy lives to reach out and pull me a rung or two up the ladder and for bringing God’s blessings to my doorstep. Thank you. I love you all. And God Bless YOU.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I ask also that anyone reading this please be sure to remember all the families still suffering from Hurricane Sandy, and to send God’s blessings to them, as well as to all our young men and women serving in America’s armed forces and emergency services throughout the world. Pray to grant them all continued courage, resourcefulness, patience, forgiveness, and understanding.

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Nov 08 2012




It’s just not the same as editing, designing

 formatting and publishing, distributing,

branding, promoting, legalizing, and

marketing your book… or selling it!



Why am I telling you this? What makes this relevant to small business? HA! 81% of all Americans think they “have a book in them” according to a New York Times survey report . . . uh, that’s like over 200 million people in the U.S. who want to write a book — more than total viewers of the most-watched-in-history 2012 London Olympic games!

WOW! That sounds like a sizable market right? And an awful lot of new books on the horizon, right? Wrong! How could that be? Well, first off– like the old days when TV first came out, and everyone watched it with the same passion we now relegate to smart phones, all humans thought they could write TV commercials because they watched them!

In other words, if you don’t read, you can’t write. According to industry findings reported at, the average book buyer reportedly never reads more than the first 18 pages of a book she or he has purchased!!! If you don’t read complete books, you can’t write books worth reading. And if your first 18 pages don’t shake the walls loose . . .

Second: WRITING your book is the easy part!

And even if you DO write a book worth reading, you’d better have a lot of money and/or considerable professional expertise with editing, designing, formatting, publishing, distributing, branding, promoting, marketing, contract law, and sales. Even IF you can manage getting a big-time agent, publishing house, and publicist, the buck still stops with you! Even if.

Discouraging? Absolutely. My best guess is that 80 of the 81% will fall by the wayside trying to effectively manage the tasks noted in the paragraph above. That’s a big pile of dead book efforts! Ah, but now there’s CROWD SOURCING to the rescue!

Go to this site now for an example of how to make your book work once it’s written. Oh, yes, and it’s only a couple of hundred dollars to create! IT’S THE NEW WAY TO SELL BOOKS. IT”S THE WAY ALL FUTURE BOOKS WILL BE SOLD!

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Aug 05 2012


Boasting your way along 


“the humble leader” line______


Maybe it’s a paradox, but it’s really not always a contradiction.

Being both assertive AND humble can work when personal authenticity is in the driver’s seat.  There’s a terrific website that encourages business boasting because there are times when everyone needs to toot her or his own respective horn, and posting news releases on BizBrag makes it easy.

Of course, any news release content you post or create must be newsworthy and not overtly self-serving if there’s any expectation of actually getting traditional or online media coverage. And it should probably go without saying that the better the writing quality, the more likely a release is to gain exposure. Think about being an editor bombarded with hundreds of PR stories!

But speaking up for yourself is not bragging. And assertiveness is not aggression! Effective leaders are almost universally assertive in their thinking and behavior, and their boasting is usually limited to praising others–the teams they lead, the customers they serve, the competitors they battle with. And, therein (AHA!) lies “leadership humility.”

Anyone who tries to prompt business leaders to associate humility with milquetoast, hat-in-hand, apologetic, goody-two-shoes behavior is missing a lightbulb or two in the world of reality. No, this is not to suggest that those in leadership positions run around patting themselves on the back while giving themselves high-fives (making themselves likely candidates for chiropractic treatment), but it IS to say that taking a strong stand–internally and externally–is both healthy and necessary.

Here’s the bottom line: No one wants to hear about how great you think you are. No one cares. Get rid of the words that haunt braggadocio-minded grandstanders: Stop talking in terms of “I” “Me” “My” “We” “Our” and start addressing what customers and investors want to hear (The answer to “What’s in it for me?”) by talking in “You” and “Your” terms. “You get” beats “We are.”

A smile, a nod, a thank you are more than sufficient responses to a compliment or praise. Leave the leaping chest bumps and running wildly around the arena up to the Olympiads. Business people do not like business people who “talk themselves up.” Should customers and prospects know if you’ve won an award or recognition? Certainly, but don’t wear your medal to work or beat them over the head with your Oscar.

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Jul 01 2012

Getting The Most Out of Creative Services

Writin’ Ain’t No Easy Job!


In case you thunk that writin’ business stuff be a snap, thunk agin! (And especially if you’re expecting an office assistant or website designer to be a writer!)

Oh, and just to kick it in gear, you might do the thunk agin part with a blank screen and a blank piece of paper in your face. Thirty years of business writing taught me that very few day-to-day business tasks are more challenging than performing a creative process that most people seem to think is simply a mechanical function. It’s not. Try it. Then be embarrassed.

Write a business plan for us, will you? I need it for an investor meeting next week. (Most effective business plans take months!) And, before you get started, knock out a couple of TV commercial scripts for the sale that’s coming up. (At least a few weeks, if there are expectations of having any impact.)

Oh, and we’ll probably need three or four blog posts (another week) and an online banner ad about that sale too (a couple of days). Will you also fit in a speech for me to give to the Roundtable Club? Say 25-30 minutes? (Another week!)

Sour grapes examples? No: Reality. If you own or operate a business and expect someone to write AND GET IT RIGHT, realize that the creative process doesn’t turn on and off like a water faucet. Effective writing is not about writing; it’s about RE-writing! RE-writing takes time and effort and knowledge and skill and experience. The simpler it is, the harder the task.

Also Reality: “Creative” people in business (or anywhere, for that matter) are more sensitive as a rule than say lawyers or accountants or investors or engineers. So –like flies– you’ll catch more with honey! Try always to give them extra time, to provide them with extra input, and then to stay out of their collective hair!

Nothing wrong with asking for rough drafts or updates, but avoid harsh criticism– as you would with a customer–if you’re interested in getting outstanding work back. Explain points you disagree with the same way you would want others to explain points that they might disagree with you about. It’s not that hard, and you will gain both respect and greater effort.

It’s one thing when someone takes twice as long as you think she or he should to perform a routine mechanical task, but quite another when you assume that the creative process is routine and mechanical and proceed to set unrealistic deadlines . . . unless you really don’t care about a quality image or delivering a meaningful message?

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P L E A S E   N O T E   N E W  D I R E C T   P H O N E   N U M B E R
HAL ALPIAR Writer/Consultant 302.933.0911, LLC
National Award-Winning Author & Brand Marketer – Record Client Sales

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Jun 03 2012


Powerwash Your


Business Deck!


Now’s as good a time as any to clear out the cobwebs, mold, and dead bugs. Get your powerwasher out, hook up the hose and start waving that magic wand! But, aaah, you’re a free-swinging entrepreneur and all of a sudden the reality hits that to make a powerwasher work requires methodical and determined action–not exactly your modus operandi, eh?

But taking a methodical approach to cleaning is really the only way to make things clean, whether it’s a room, a carpet, the shower, or your business enterprise. Start by taking a hard look at the messages your business is communicating. Are you saying what you truly want the rest of the world to associate with you and your products/ services/ name/ reputation?

I’ll address human resources, operations, finances and other entrepreneurial concerns in subsequent posts, but first and foremost, small business owners must always be reassessing their brand and theme line. These are the most important tools a business has, and neither can remain stagnant. Change is what today’s business world is all about.

The horizon is constantly moving.


Targets, objectives, and goals used to be stationary, but no more. You need to be checking up on yourself at least once a month because what you were aiming for twenty or thirty days ago could be long gone by now. Don’t think you’re immune. It’s not just computers and smart phones running rampant . . . it’s people’s attitudes. TEST where you’re going.

Your customers and prospects THINK differently today (and faster!) than they did a year ago, a month ago, a week ago. The pace of life is more frantic. The business of building a business is more hectic. The messages your business is sending out can be obsolete before you even get them printed or onto Twitter. How will you know? Diligence and your powerwasher!

Force yourself to add quick-fix reviews of your branding efforts to your monthly lineup of checklist tasks. Put it right next to assessing your cash flow. If it’s time for a change, consider professional marketing writer input. Sometimes the fix is as quick and simple as changing just a word or two. Other times, a whole new strategy is needed. Professionals do both daily.

Struggle with revisions and updates yourself if you like, but you may want to ask yourself if you might be more productive focused on sales or operations or investor funding? Oh, and outsiders bring fresh perspectives to your table.

What’s important is your vigilance.


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Dec 22 2011


Updated From the Best of Hal’s Christmastime Business Posts . . . 

A toy truck, a stroller,


and pub coasters


strung with dental floss…



A few years ago, on a re-visit trip to Ireland, Kathy and I –romanticized by the classic Bing Crosby Christmas song, “Christmas In Killarney”– spent our first Christmas away from home at Killarney Country Club.


 Up a rocky, grass-between-the-tires dirt road from downtown Killarney, jockeying “the wrong side” car controls to bounce cheerfully along between the endless stone walls that separated farm from farm and cows from sheep, we drove under a brick archway and into an historic-looking brick complex that held captive about three dozen two-story townhouses.

There was one other car at the far end. We parked and followed the “Office” arrow. We found a smiling, green-eyed, freckled face and bubbling thick Irish accented young lady at the office counter. We registered and unpacked. We were shown to a spacious two-bedroom upstairs arrangement with living room and kitchen downstairs. Our windows overlooked the property’s main courtyard and pathway to the Country Club Pub.

It seems when I think back that (after the first day of dealing with the one other car’s occupants — a rude tourist family of six that commandeered the odd three-feet-deep indoor pool), we were actually the only guests there for the rest of the (Christmas) week.

We made the trek into town everyday, a beautiful, historic, bustling hub filled with happy holiday shopping locals, who seemed to visit a shop or two, then stop in a pub, then visit a shop or two, then stop in a pub . . . you get the idea. And we drove hundreds of miles of picturesque unspoiled (and unlittered) countryside during the week, meeting only pleasant, accommodating-to-a-fault natives all along the way.

Night driving seemed a bit perilous, so we opted for evening visits to the Country Club Pub (the alternative was staying in our unit with three tv stations, two of which were German!). The only Christmas tree we could find ($45 American) made Charlie Brown’s look like Rockefeller Plaza. Our scruffy pine was about 30 inches tall and had about 16 (or maybe it was 14?) scrawny branches.

We had no ornaments, but confiscated a wide range of cardboard pub coasters in our travels, punched small holes in each with a fork, and strung them up with pieces of dental floss. A homemade aluminum foil star found its way to the top. We stuffed two ”Season’s Greetings”-scrawled plastic shopping bags with small sofa pillows and hung them in our windows.

We grocery-shopped for the all-time elaborate brunch of Irish rasher (bacon), eggs, cheese, jam, butter, toast, fruit, crackers, caviar, coffee, tea–  and a bottle of asti that (being entrenched deep in beer and ale country, cost 11 gazillion dollars American) tasted a lot better than it was.

We exchanged gifts we had bought the day before, walking down opposite sides of the downtown, waving in between passing cars, trucks, buses, pedestrians, and shopfronts, a book for me, a piece of Irish crystal and a little stuffed Irish Christmas Bear for her, plus some other goodies. It was great fun and everyone wished everyone Merry Christmas!!

Every minute we spent there was great, even when fifteen native Killarney guys had us singing with them (at the Country Club Pub where they’d hiked to by flashlight from their nearby farms) until 3am which led us to the hilarious discovery that no one there had ever even heard of the Crosby song, “Christmas In Killarney”!!! (I tried to sing it and they all looked at one another like I was from Mars.)

With the rows of “y’got ta finish dem” topped-off pints of beer and ale lined up from one end of the bar to the other, planted there when 11:15pm closing time came, it ultimately mattered not that anyone heard of any song as long as you sang. And sing we did! When Kathy was asked to present a song, she sang “Zippity, Do-da, Zippity-A…” which brought the house down.

So much for that, but it was a wonderful experience. Just one thing was missing. Family. We spent half the afternoon trying to phone home, with circuit connections going from where we were on Ireland’s West Coast, to Northern Ireland, to Boston, to Florida, to New York, to the clan in New Jersey who sounded like they were in a tunnel.

It made us realize that all the happiness of the week there was momentarily lost to being lonesome for family. We managed to bounce back after that when the resort manager and his wife (who we suspect might have been listening in to our phone connection efforts) invited us to their home for a Christmas drink. 

We got to see the doll baby stroller Santa brought for their daughter. (Last Christmas, Santa brought the doll!). I think their son got a toy truck. One single present each and those children were in heaven! Uh, it might be worth repeating that: “One single present each and those children were in heaven!”

That certainly gave us cause for pause. We in America are blessed with so much, and family is, well, what Christmas is all about now, isn’t it? It was a Christmas of great learning that stayed with us.

I truly hope for you that you enjoy what you have today, and not take any of it for granted.

Oh, one last thing: Please remember to God Bless Our Troops for their eternal vigilance that grants us the freedom we have to celebrate this joyous day and season! Enjoy!

 Peace be to you.


The original of this Christmas story appeared on 12/25/08 on this blog site.


God Bless You One And All

And Merry Christmas To You!

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