Category Archives: Branding

Banned books, comic books (sort of), branding, and films


One more reason to like social media.

Grassroots response to banning of Invisible Man in Randolph County, North Carolina

7 Reasons Your Favorite Books Were Banned

Ways to Celebrate Banned Books Week

Comic books (sort of)

French Can Now Get Current Events as Digital and Print Comics

Branding (Personal)

Looking around I ran into the Book Whisperer Blog and one of the posts there has to do with what I consider personal branding. It’s a riff on the Kardashians but still I like it. It’s aimed at teachers and school librarians, but, you know, most of it applies to everyone, including you.

Bryan Cranston from the TV series Breaking Bad was profiled in the September 16, 2013 issue of The New Yorker. One paragraph begins: “Cranston says, matter-of-factly, ‘I often find myself in a pickle and having to apologize, because that’s what risk-takers have to do.'” This reminded of a quote that I first saw on a Tom Peters slide: “Don’t ask for permission; beg for forgiveness.” I often wondered who said that first. Turns out it was Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper. Always a good mantra to keep in mind. Of course you have to be prepared for the trouble your actions may cause.


Camden International Film Festival begins tomorrow, September 26. Camden, Maine is a beautiful place to visit this time of year. You could see a lot of great films, too.

Facebook page


The Scrabble Diet


flickr photo credit: Alex_untitled

Links about books, publishing, self-publishing, marketing, video, & photography

High Brow

Excavated Site in Denmark May Be The Royal Hall From ‘Beowulf’
Reminds that it may be time to re-read Beowulf. Last time I did that I was a freshman in college. Also happen to have a copy of the verse translation by Seamus Heaney (R.I.P.) sitting here on my bookshelf. (Though one of the commenters at Amazon thinks that the translation by Frederick Rebsamen is superior to Heaney’s.)


Self-Publishing An E-Book? Here Are 4 Ways To Leave Amazon’s 30% Tax Behind

Self-Publishing A Legal Casebook: An Ebook Success Story

(As evidenced by the two different versions of e-book/ebook above, Forbes copy editors may want to look into standardizing the spelling of that pesky word.)

Still banning books?

North Carolina school board bans “Invisible Man”
(from @DavePell’s NextDraft newsletter 9/20/13)

Still reminding us that books are banned

Did you know it is banned books week?

How banned books week is being observed in my neck of the woods:

Read-Out for Banned Books Week


Video provides payday for publishers
(thanks to @jwikert for the link)

Proof of what Joe describes is happening at the New York Times, where one of the video features is called Op-Docs. One of the recent videos there is:

56 Ways of Saying I Don’t Remember

Louie C.K. on Conan about cell phones
There’s actually a great line in here about letting yourself getting completely sad, embracing it, crying, in order to produce the “happiness antibodies” that will make you completely happy. But screwing around with the phone rather than just sitting there “being human” gets in the way of complete sadness, therefore getting in the way of complete happiness. Brilliant in a way.
(thanks to @DavePell’s NextDraft)


This Guy Turns OCD Hoarding into Amazing Photos
(thanks @Dooce)


New Album “Sparks” Announced
Another musician doing some interesting stuff on the marketing front.


Spam comment at this blog:
Now I am going to do my breakfast, later than having my breakfast coming yet again to read more news.

Book promotion and marketing

I’m working with some folks on promoting their forthcoming business book. During one of our discussions about what we were doing, one of the co-authors mentioned this list from Chris Brogan, what he calls An Author’s List for Social Media Efforts. I’d call it 21 Ways to Promote Your Book. It’s a great list of things for an author to do, definitely a “must start here” for anyone setting out to promote a book.

Why I ride in the Pan Mass Challenge

I started riding in the Pan Mass Challenge (a 200-mile two-day bike ride in Massachusetts, USA that raises funds for the fight against cancer) because I had gotten back into biking after a long hiatus, I had friends who were doing it, and because I was now in my 50s and thinking more about how to give back to people rather than getting for myself. Apparently that happens to men of a certain age. Less concern and worry about their place in the universe and more concern about how to help others.

The thinking also went: “I’m going to be out there biking because I like doing it and I like how it makes me feel and how it makes me fit and since I’m putting in all these miles (and time), I might as well see if there’s a way to somehow be helping someone simultaneously.” Enter Pan Mass Challenge. Perfect fit, really.

Then reality sets in. You’ve got to be in pretty good shape to ride back-to-back centuries. (A century in bike parlance is a 100-mile ride.) As a result you have to ride a lot to get in shape for that weekend. You end up riding more than you would otherwise ride just to stay in shape. Which is good. On the one hand. On the other, you end up putting in more time in the saddle than you otherwise might want to. Other things don’t happen or don’t get done. There’s only so much time in a day. As I get older, this is more and more apparent to me. (As I tick off only 3 of the 7 items on my to-do list.) Either I’m slowing down at getting things done, or I just have wildly unrealistic expectations. Or: combination of the two.

But you ride for the cause. Money raised goes to fight cancer. You don’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way. Think about that. No one. Everyone you know and everyone that all of the people you know knows doesn’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected by cancer. Follow that geometric progression out. As far as causes go, it’s a no-brainer.

But really, the main reason I continue to ride is my presence on the road. And not just my presence. But all those bicyclists out there training every day, every weekend. People see them. Pedestrians see them. Drivers see them. These folks who see the bicyclists–and many of the bicyclists wear Pan Mass Challenge jerseys from past years–will think of the Pan Mass Challenge and the cause it supports and they might think about someone they know who is currently undergoing treatment for one kind of cancer or another. Moreover, people have told me how people undergoing cancer treatments see each of these bicyclists as a ray of hope. Why? Because they care. They care enough to go out and ride their bike and ask colleagues, friends, and neighbors for money to help find a cure for cancer. Person on bike = hope. It’s physical, it’s visceral, it’s emotional. It’s helpful.

There are those Saturday mornings when I’m waking up and thinking, “oh, I’d like to sleep a while longer,” but there’s a group going out at 8 a.m. I want to ride with. So you get up. And as the summer progresses, the rides get longer and longer. Here’s the thing: by the time you get to the first weekend in August and you’re going to ride nearly 200 miles over the course of that Saturday and Sunday, you want a couple of similar weekends under your butt. So you go out and ride 80 miles on a Saturday and then go out again and ride 80 miles on Sunday. And somewhere in there you do a century ride or two as well. Then you’re ready. (Though I’m pretty certain a lot of riders go into the weekend not nearly well enough prepared. But you know, their hearts are in the right place and you hope it hope it isn’t too hot and that they don’t stress their bodies too much.)

Then there are the systems. The PMC has great systems. It’s easy for people to donate online. It’s easy for me to set up. I keep the same link year after year. When someone donates, I get an email right away. (This is a recent development.) Meaning the PMC team is constantly working at improving their website and how it works and how money gets funneled to the cause. (Sidebar: I donated money to a friend who participated in a 2-day cancer walk. Never heard from her. But knew she was the kind of person who would send a thank you note. When I asked her about it, she said she had sent a thank you note via the fundraising website. I never got that email. Bad system. Life’s too short to work with causes that don’t have good systems in place.

One last thing. It’s the people who come out to cheer you on. They are the best fans. Lining the road, clapping. And the best part, the folks who say “Good job!” or “You’re doing great work!” You know, this is the kind of encouragement you never get at work. But that you should get at work. It’s a good lesson, really, for everyone. Encourage the folks you work with. Tell them–out loud!–what a great job they’re doing. Don’t wait for someone to tell you that you’re great. Tell everyone else first. Who doesn’t want to participate in something when you know you’ll get positive feedback from everyone. Everyone! I’ve been thinking about this aspect of the ride for a while now. Maybe this encouragement from the roadside fans has more of an impact on why I sign up each year than I’m willing to acknowledge?

Every year during the hot days of mid July when I’m out there pushing my bike (and my body, 210 lbs!) up a steep hill, I ask myself “Why am I doing this?” A couple weeks later I get the answer when I’m standing in a parking lot in Sturbridge, MA with a few thousand other cyclists and we’re waiting for a State Police officer to sing the National Anthem at 5:45 a.m. and you look around at all the people and think of all their stories and why they ride and, well, it’s a great feeling. A lot of people making a difference in the world.

Then when January of the next year rolls around and it’s time to decide whether to sign up for the Pan Mass Challenge again, it’s always that first weekend in August that you remember, not the months leading up to it. Sign up again? Sure.

You can support my ride at this link:

Tattoo you

You know how you go to Google and search for pictures of yourself? You don’t? Oh. The last time I searched my name I once again didn’t find any pictures of myself but I did find this image of a different Erik Hansen. (There are a gazillion Erik Hansens. Very popular Scandinavian name.) Not that I’m going to get a tattoo or even thinking of getting a tattoo but if I were to get a tattoo, I’d like it to look like this one. Irregular, not too slick. It’s got a nice earthy quality to it. (I probably should have saved this post for Talk Like a Pirate Day, but, well, I didn’t.)

Red Cross 1, J&J 0

In what seemed to be a slam dunk case for J&J (remember: J&J loans red cross logo, which they own, to Red Cross organization with stipulation that Red Cross not turn around and use logo to market other products, which they apparently did) it now turns out that Judge Jed S. Rakoff has “granted a request by the American Red Cross to dismiss J.& J.’s contention that the organization had promised not to engage in certain commercial activity, including licensing the red cross symbol to others and selling first-aid products in competition with J.& J.”

Can’t wait to hear more about this. Brief NY Times story here.

Giving blood


I gave blood last week. I try to do this every eight weeks. That’s the minimum amount of time between donations. Your blood has got to re-generate. Someone asked me why I do this so regularly and I said, “It’s the only way I’m going to save a life.” The literature they hand out at the collection centers notes that 3 lives can be saved with one pint. I find that hard to believe but hey, maybe it’s true.

The thing about giving blood is you always have to read this four-page laminated-sheet booklet describing all the conditions and medications that indicate you shouldn’t give blood. The same thing every time. There ought to be a way to skip this. I glance at it and then hold on to it for a while before handing it back to the overly talkative woman who is signing in the donors.

But this is part of the problem: time. Once you finally are hooked up to to a needle it takes less than 10 minutes to collect a pint of blood. But from the time I enter the place until the time I leave, over an hour and a half passes. Why? Reading the literature and then the part of the process that I find the most tedious: the interview.

They ask the same questions every time. Mostly they seem to concern sex with strangers or prostitutes. Coming into contact with someone else’s blood. Couldn’t they keep track of these things from one time to the next and then just ask me if anything had changed? Then you’re always assigned to a recruit so a bored looking regular sits and watches while the newbie goes through all the questions and enters information into an antiquated laptop. If they happen to be humorless, it’s even worse, though I’ve had some interviewers who were quite funny. That helps.

Then they print out the form they’ve just generated and then come back and ask you your name again (for about the 8th time, it seems). Then it’s on to the cot.

As I lie down I tell the guy, “I don’t want to see the needle and I don’t want to see any blood.” He nods at me, probably wondering why I elect to give blood if I’m so uncomfortable with the process. While I’m lying there, with my head turned to the left, away from the arm that is hooked up the apparatus, there’s a guy sitting nearby fiddling with things. I say hi and we begin talking and I tell him how frustrating it is to have to go through such a long process to give blood and he begins to tell me what a screwed up organization the Red Cross is. “Nobody at the top listens to the guys down here (he points around the room) doing the work. We’re the ones who know what’s going on.” I think to myself: how many people working in America feel this way? I say, “Yes, I think that happens a lot. It’s a problem with organizations, with hierarchies, with bureaucracies.” Then he goes on to tell me that he’s been working for the Red Cross for 30 years and his daughters were giving blood when they were in high school and how the current organization won’t go after high school kids. “They target colleges, the military, and businesses,” he says. “But they don’t want to deal with high school kids. Kids who if they had a decent experience, would be giving blood for the rest of their lives.”

He tells me about a woman who came in to give blood and said how she left her daughter at home and how the child thinks that “mommy is going to get hurt.” This guy told her, go home and get that child and bring her in. We’ll show her that this isn’t painful, that it’s a good thing. Here is a guy who clearly understands perception and image. He even says, “Why not bring in high school kids and just show then around. Even if they’re not going to give blood. Let them see the room, the people, give them some cookies, let them have a good experience.” Because, obviously, for so many people this is a bad experience.

He mentions that a lot of WWII guys had a bad feeling about the Red Cross because during the war, apparently, the Red Cross tried to sell stuff to GIs. The Salvation Army was giving away chocolates and cigarettes. But the Red Cross was trying to make money. Is this true? This sounds vaguely familiar to the Red Cross’s current plight in which they’re being sued by Johnson & Johnson for copyright infringement. Basically they’re abusing the goodwill of J&J in order to make a few bucks by licensing the Red Cross logo (which J&J owns) to third parties. (This guy over here has a good summation.)

Anyway, it’s clear that the Red Cross is a troubled organization. You see it in the collection center, and a cursory Google search of Red Cross history brings up a lot of links that are not positive. So. What does it mean for me? I don’t know. My new friend says, “Send a letter, tell them what’s wrong with the way this works.” I say I might. But then as I’m leaving I say, “What’s your name?” Because I’m curious and I want to introduce myself. He states his name, we shake hands, but then he pulls back. “You’re not going to use my name in that letter, are you?” “No,” I assure him, and think to myself: this is part of the problem. These people who have good ideas but then don’t want to actually lay it on the line for what they believe. And here is this guy who intuitively understands that you have to improve the experience to get more people to donate. He didn’t read that in a business book, I’m guessing. What a loss to the organization.

My blood given, I go to the table where snacks are laid out and grab a 6-pack of Oreos and gobble those down with a small bottle of water. And sit there and talk with another guy for a bit. The people there encourage you to wait for 15 minutes before venturing back into the world. Later I find out from someone that when you give blood in Australia, they give you a sandwich and a beer afterwards! Those Aussies, they know how to live.