Register for new Travel Tools webinar and get a free book!

Register Now! Top 20 Travel Tools for Nerds on the Go!

$30 registration includes a signed copy of the presenter’s book!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM (Pacific Time)

If you travel, there’s no need to juggle printed itineraries, collect business receipts or feel disconnected from the office.

Beth Ziesenis, Your Nerdy Best Friend, will share the Top 20 Tech Travel Tools for Nerds on the Go! This special session will include free and bargain tech tools that help you stay organized, productive and in touch on the road.

Every attendee receives a copy of the presenter’s book, Upgrade to Free: The Best Free and Low-Cost Tools and Apps (rated 5 stars on — a $15 value), plus one lucky attendee will win a one-hour consultation with Beth to discover tech tools specific to his or her organization or lifestyle.

NOTE: Profits from this webinar will be donated to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in memory of the presenter’s running buddy, Rebecca Reza, who lost her life to cancer this winter. Read her story here.

Back to Square One, Again

Last year the woman I ran my first marathon with contracted cancer, and three weeks ago, she passed away. In her honor, I’m running my sixth marathon — back to the one we ran together, the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, June 3.

Rebecca and me after our first marathon, June 2007

Now, you’d think that after five marathons in five years, I’d be an old pro. Far from it this time, my friends. In the past couple of years, my career and my new marriage have taken precedence over running, and I’m starting with the beginning training schedules again, taking each mile one step at a time in hopes my body will remember that once I was a pretty dedicated runner.

This personal quest, like many before, echoes where I am in my professional life. On August 30 of last year, I wrote that I was shutting the doors of my copywriting business to focus on being an author and speaker. But I jumped off that bridge with something of a safety net — a “part-time,” seasonal position at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I put “part-time” in parentheses because the job turned out to be quite time consuming, and now that it has come to an end (as of Friday of last week), I’m left here on square one with my new business as well.

So as I sit here on the first full day of the first full week without having to juggle the other job, I’m looking for a road map to success. Should I send out emails to anyone and everyone who might hire me as a speaker? Start working on another book? Jump back into social media? Attend a conference for speakers to get back on track? I’m out of shape as a business owner as well, and I have to start with the beginner’s schedule to catch up.

My marathon coaches have a plan to get me back into shape. Each week — each day, even — they spell out exactly what I need to do to cross the finish line in June. But right now I have no such plan for Your Nerdy Best Friend. I think my best bet is to first get caught up on some basic business chores (like accounting and taxes), then take myself away for three or so days to draw my own road map. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again. I just need to remember to take it one step at a time.

So, what’s your Square One story? Are you starting something new in 2012 and floundering about your first steps? Share your challenges, and perhaps we can all help each other.

PS — I’d be honored, truly honored, if you took a moment to read my friend’s story as told by her husband (it will touch your heart, I promise) and to donate any small amount in her honor. If cancer has touched your home, please join me in the fight to stop this dreaded disease from taking more of our friends and family too soon.


I need your help, but then again, right now I need everyone’s help

This is another one of those posts that I really hesitate to write because it would be nice to live the myth that publishing my first book equates to instant success. But I’ve always tried to tell the real story here, even when it’s not so pretty. So here goes…

Sigh… my business life was so simple when I started out as a copywriter. I could reach out to thousands of contacts in my database, and I just needed a handful of people to engage my services, and POOF — I was making a living. When I had ten active clients, I was swamped with work. So a 1% or less response rate was fine with me.

But now I’m an author, and I need to sell books. Lots of books. Thousands of books. Which means that if I have 5000 people connected to me through various means, and 1% buy the book, I’m in horrible shape.

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And right now, frankly, I’m kinda in horrible shape. The publishing world is black and white. If you sell enough books, you’re a good bet for other books. If you don’t, you’re not going to get other contracts. So if this book doesn’t do well, my life as an author may be over before it begins. I’m really not counting on becoming rich from the book sales — it’s the speaking gigs that will help me make a living. But being an author makes me a more desirable speaker, so I need to sell some books.

I’m not trying to brag here, but the book is pretty darn cool. When people see it, their eyes generally light up and they start flipping through with enthusiasm. “Oh, I’ve heard of that!” “Oh, I’ve been looking for something to help with that!” “Oh, I need this book!” Each tool has a QR code that you can scan with a smartphone or tablet and instantly go to the tool’s webpage to check it out. People who attend my sessions frequently tell me they download stuff before they leave the room. And frankly, if you like my blog, you’ll like the book. It’s funny, and it’s me.  We have 10 5-star reviews on, and some of those are even from non-relatives!

But having a good product is just a minuscule part of the selling process. I need to do SO MUCH MORE. The problem is there’s so much to do and so many avenues to take that I have no idea where to start or what to do. I follow up on media contacts, tweet out a new tool, call a bookstore, run a Facebook ad…. The list goes on and on. Sometimes I sell a couple three books from an effort, but often I hit a roadblock and change direction.

I actually thought I had a great plan to sell the book. I enlisted the help of several awesome (and big-name) contributors to share their favorite tools, including THE Seth Godin, author Dan Pink, social media superstar Chris Brogan and more. And they all agreed to receive an advanced copy of the book for a possible review. And then they all said they were too busy to write the review. Then I met Steve Strauss, the small business columnist from USA Today, who said he’d LOVE to do a column about the tools and the book and how it helps small businesses. He’s too busy, too, seems like — I’ve written him twice with no response. I don’t blame them, of course, for not being able to write a review — I’m sure they get requests all the time. But they were part of my plan to get the word out, and the dead ends are disheartening.

There are companies who will help you sell your book. But frankly I couldn’t buy a cup of Starbucks coffee with the royalties I get from the sale of one book, so paying thousands of dollars to sell my books doesn’t make much financial sense. The food and champagne for the fabulous Book Launch Party cost about three times the money I made on book sales from the event, even though the AMAZING cupcakes were donated by Jennywennycakes. Yes, I said “three times.”

So there you have it — writing a book is hard, but selling a book is much, much harder. And so far, I haven’t figured it out.

So now that I’ve shared my challenges and aired my laundry, do you have any advice on where to go from here? I’m all ears.

PS — In my many years of fundraising for Team In Training, I’ve learned that you never get anything unless you ask. So I’m going to ask you, my readers, if you can help. Here are three things that would be greatly, greatly appreciated. Really.

  1. Buy the book. It’s just ten bucks on Amazon, cheaper for the Kindle. When people buy through Amazon, the ranking goes up, and the sales go up. It helps. A lot.
  2. Like the Facebook page. Tell your friends to like the Facebook page. Help me get some critical mass.
  3. Tell people you know a good speaker. Attendees leave my sessions with smiles on their faces and tools they can use right away. I’d appreciate an introduction to anyone you know who books speakers for events.

That’s all she wrote: A pictorial history as Avenue Z closes

This weekend I sent off the final file for the final project for the final client of Avenue Z Writing Solutions. Yep. That’s it. I retired from the copywriting biz to write more books and make a living speaking around the country. Or something. I haven’t really convinced myself that being a full-time author and speaker will pay the bills, but I’m jumping off the cliff to give it a try.

Strangely enough, the move comes almost four years to the day since I quit my sales job in a tearful phone call to my boss. “I can’t do this anymore!” I wailed. And when I got off the phone, I said, “Uh oh. Now what?” I was daunted by the idea of looking for a real job (even before the economy tanked), so I decided the easiest thing to do would be to start my own writing business.

It was very, very tough to make the phone calls to those clients, many of whom I’ve had almost since the beginning. It took me several months to finish all the work in progress, and when I pushed the send button on Sunday, there were a couple of tears.

So, here I am again starting completely from scratch on a new career I know very little about. That’s not exactly true because I’ve been booking speaking gigs for about three years, plus the first book is in the bag (and on the shelf — check it out!). But I have to create new marketing techniques, new online strategies, new connections — really a whole new identity.

So before I begin a new chapter, I thought I’d share a pictorial look back at the last four years of Avenue Z:


Now… on to the future as Your Nerdy Best Friend!

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