Monthly Archives: May 2017

[5 Crucial Tips for Authors] Selling Essentials by Claude Whitacre

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Anyone who’s read my last three full-size books on publishing, sales, and marketing knows that I started my career with a small Canadian literary press straight out of college almost 25 years ago. After working there for three years, it was clear to me that there were no solid opportunities for advancement nor any real chance of a salary increase due to the fact that this press operated solely on government grants. Needless to say, I was forced to leave my job out of financial necessity and found a more prosperous position in advertising sales at the local daily newspaper. It was my reluctant beginning to a lifelong career as a salesperson. I hated sales back then. It felt so foreign to me.

Perhaps, if I’d read a copy of Claude Whitacre’s Selling Essentials: Your First 90 Days in Selling back then, I would have had an easier transition into the world of sales and would have enjoyed it that much more. That’s why I’m sharing my review of this book with you here. Because authors are entrepreneurs. Always have been. Always will be. If you want true commercial success as an author, you can have it. There’s proof of this everywhere these days (you can check out the guest posts on this blog for some real-world examples). You just have to learn how to sell.

I already know the reason for your initial resistance to selling, and so does Claude. Believe it or not, he and I both lean more toward the introverted side of the personality scale like so many other authors do … which may be hard to believe since we’ve both done something seemingly extroverted by placing our author pictures on the front covers of our books. (That literally makes me laugh out loud.) In any case, Claude sums up this initial resistance perfectly in this early excerpt from his book:

People say they cannot sell when they are doing it every day. It’s because they don’t want to do … what they think selling is. They don’t want to pressure people, misrepresent, abuse friendships, sell shoddy products and services. That’s what they don’t want to do. But selling isn’t any of those things.





As I read this book, I was pleased to learn that Claude and I both agree the best salespeople in this world are trustworthy and accountable. They do what they say they’re going to do. They tell the truth. They are reliable. They keep promises. They work hard for their customers. They are interested in understanding their customers’ needs first and then doing what they can to fill those needs in the most beneficial way for that customer. That’s what this book is about; and, although it’s tailored more toward the corporate sales environment, there’s a lot of information for authors to garner from Claude’s advice. Here are five crucial tips for authors in particular:

  1. The single biggest threat to your sales success is hanging around with the people who say it can’t be done.
    There is a lingering myth among aspiring (and some established) authors that the ultimate goal is to have one’s book “picked up” by a traditional trade publisher, not only for the associated recognition but also because of the belief that these publishers will sell your books for you … you won’t have to do any heavy lifting at all. In reality, to be a truly successful author you must treat book publishing, sales, and marketing as your own business. The same holds true whether you self-publish, take today’s hybrid (e.g., supported self-publishing) route, or sign with a traditional trade publisher. Hanging out with the “bitch and complainers” (or “losers” as Claude refers to them) in the corporate world will kill your sales potential because you’ll begin to take on their personalities and habits if you’re around them for too long. The same holds true in the book sales and marketing world. Do you want success as an author? Then you not only need to learn how to sell, but you need to surround yourself with those who are succeeding to keep reinforcing for yourself that it is possible to be successful. Here are two such authors for you to pay attention to: Timothy Ellis and Liz Schulte. You should also read Claude’s book.
  2. It’s not all about the price!
    Claude calls this a myth: everyone buys based on price; no one buys expensive products. Claude is absolutely right. No matter what it is that you’re selling, there is a time and a place for price-based selling and there is a time and a place for value-based selling. It all depends on your prospective buyers’ wants and needs as I discuss in many of my books. If you want to reach them, you need to speak to them in their language. You need to figure out what their needs are and sell to them rather than just assuming everyone only buys based on price.
  3. Here’s a great way to overcome your fear of rejection.
    Every aspiring author fears rejection. Every new salesperson fears rejection. Why? Because they’re taking certain things personally that aren’t personal at all. The way Claude helps new salespeople to realize this, during his sales seminars, is to ask 10 random people in the audience whether or not they like butterscotch. Usually, around half say yes and half say no. At that point, he poses a question to the entire room: “Do you feel any differently about the people who like butterscotch versus the ones who don’t?” Everyone says no, of course. Because it’s simply a choice they’ve made about a product—not a personal attack on the person who asked whether or not they like or want that product. What a great exercise! It truly puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? Keeping that in mind should make anyone feel better when they approach a new sales prospect whether they’re trying to sell a vacuum cleaner or a book.
  4. You need to measure your activities in relation to your sales to know how you’re doing.
    In most corporate sales jobs, your employer expects you to log your daily activities in some type of customer relationship management (CRM) tool such as Salesforce. It’s such a valuable practice that everyone should be doing, even if they don’t have an employer asking them to do it. Why? Because doing so tells you exactly where your sales are coming from and how long it takes for them to happen in relation to whatever sales activity (e.g., blogging, social media marketing, event marketing) you’ve done. When you know what’s working and what isn’t, you can tweak it. You can improve it.
  5. Start with just one push-up and, the next thing you know, you’ll have done 100.
    I always recommend authors to commit just one hour per day, six days per week, toward their book sales and marketing efforts. That’s it, that’s all. Why? Because everyone can commit an hour a day. Claude has another way of saying the same thing. He calls it his “one push-up theory” and here is how he describes it:
        Let’s say you want to start an exercise program. And that exercise program starts with
    push-ups. You work your way up to 100 push-ups a day. But today, you just don’t feel
    like doing 100 push-ups. What do you do? Do one push-up. That’s right. Just do one.
    Anyone can do a push-up. It takes you no effort at all.

    He goes on to say that it’s interesting how, once you’ve done that one push-up, you suddenly feel motivated to do a few more. So, you maybe do 10 or 20. Then that’s builds up a momentum. You’re already in position. Might as well do the remaining 80 or 90 push-ups. Sales works the same way. Just start. Just one hour. Just one push-up. Just start every single day, and you’ll see that momentum build.

I highly recommend you click on the above link and buy a copy of Claude’s book Selling Essentials: Your First 90 Days in Selling because there is so much more value in this book than the five crucial tips I’ve included here. You may find some additional tidbits that speak to you even more clearly than these.

It’s a small book, a fast read. I got through it in about two hours, so it won’t take up too much of your time. But it will be worth the read in terms of helping you to understand and feel so much more comfortable with your role as a salesperson.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



[R. A. Jordan] The Journey of The Unknown Author

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Hello: I’m Robert A Jordan, that would be R.A Jordan on Amazon/Kindle. I’m writing here today due to a chance encounter with Kim Staflund on Quora. Kim was looking for a guest blogger there, I was coming off of my last free day of an e-book give away I had done. I agreed to do a guest blog for Kim, as I was intrigued with having found someone on Quora kind of doing the same thing I was doing there. No matter what one may coin it, and although it was 2 separate entities, me with books, her with guest blogging, we were both marketing to some degree! I’m there marketing for a reason, I truly am the unknown author. Kim is there for another reason, she truly is the ass busting type of entrepreneur it seemingly takes in this digital age of book publishing, or, it least that’s my assessment of her. After a couple of Quora chats, I went and checked her out on her Polished Publishing Group site(PPG, from here out) and thought wow! It could be beneficial for me to do this guest blog for her, so with that being stated here I am.

As I stated above, I am at this point an unknown author. I did everything backward, and learned as I went. I might should’ve encountered PPG sooner, it does look like they offer a lot of services that would truly benefit one such as myself. Basically my journey began a while back, but as far as publishing, that started at the end of January. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide I wanted to write books, it slowly evolved as a result of let downs and failures. I was a career construction guy, I now have a slight disability that hinders my ability to perform that kind of work. I’m an avid music person, I love music! I attempt to play guitar & piano, but what I think I have a knack for is telling musical tales. In a nutshell, I’m writing short stories in verse, that are written as songs, and without sounding biased, tell a pretty interesting story. This is something I’ve been doing for quite a few years, and I never thought much about it. I could tell you some funny stories, where this little ability of mine actually helped me get through more than one college class, and a lot more, but I’ll stick to the story at hand “The Journey of The Unknown Author”. I’m writing these songs, and approaching people to play them or help me arrange them. This piques some curiosity, but it never develops into anything meaningful. More or less the end result of my brush with the music folks, was a lack of interest (like they had better things to do). The thing was they wouldn’t say no, they would just string me out, and let me figure that part out. This is what led me to become the unknown author, not exactly a position in life one should aspire for, but for me it kind of happened.




Thus begins The Journey! I’m sitting on all these little tales I’ve written. I’m actually crazy enough to send them to the bigger wigs in the Music Industry, hence the title of one of my books is “Unsolicited”. Taylor Swift’s lawyer was kind enough to send me a rejection letter along the lines of unsolicited. Interesting term! if you’re a fledgling author, and you’re querying Literary Agents, you could be apt to becoming familiar with that term as well. I also received a very kind letter from National Geographic telling me that they keep tabs on Sharbat Gula, and are helping her out financially. I wrote a song about her and called it “ Afghan Cover Girl”, I was attempting to bring their attention to her situation by mailing a copy to them. Do you remember the little girl from Afghanistan who graced the cover of National Geographic back in “85”? and then went on to grace the covers 3 more times? That was Sharbut Gula, that’s a different story though. I wrote one about Paul Walker that I thought would blend in well with the next Fast & Furious movie, that one was sent to Vin Diesel’s lawyer, I never heard back on that one, the movie was released last month. Long story short, I’m getting nowhere doing this direct approach to people’s lawyer’s and agents. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I’m becoming aware of how the publishing industry is going the way of the music industry. Here comes the birth of mistake # 1!

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I take 102 of those little stories, copyright them, and publish them with Kindle. The act of publishing isn’t the mistake, the mistake is publishing too many at one time, and there’s a couple in there I would like to have back. Out of 102, there’s probably 90 to 95, that are worthy, the other half dozen or so, could’ve used a little more attention(some strong language), hey, it was my first one, and it was unplanned! Or at least that’s my excuse. I say it was too long, because I’m guessing it probably gets redundant in the manner of being written in verse. What have I done? I thought I had something for the music world! In my mind, based on what I’m hearing played on the airwaves, I’ve got some good stuff that’s going to waste, if I don’t get it out there! That’s the thought process behind publishing songs in book form for me. I have no platform what so ever, and now the fun begins. I remember looking at numbers and stats and things of that nature, I’m thinking wow, there’s almost a billion English speaking folks in the world, I only need a small percentage of those to read or purchase my book. Needless to say I did not realize the vastness of the Kindle Sea. I changed the cover, I changed the price, I put it on Craig’s List a few times, and have given it away on 2 separate occasions. Then I wrote 2 more, and put them out there, and I’m currently working on the 4th, which I hope to have out in a couple of weeks. In between all this, I have these little e-books on places like Goodreads and Booksie, and I’m on Song Stuff as well. At the moment none of that is working out in regards to book sales, but I keep writing. My desk is littered with all these little 1 and 2 liners that cross my mind at random times. I look at it like this, as long as those little 1 and 2 liners keep crossing my mind, I’ll keep writing, as those are where my little stories are coming from. I’m pretty certain I have a couple of hits in the mix, it’s a matter of getting it to the right folks. I’m more than likely going to have to do a couple myself, to give someone an idea of what they’re supposed to sound like. In the meantime as stated, they make for amusing stories, and given their short nature, I would think they would adapt pretty well to Kindle and like devices.

In case someone’s not getting it, for me book sales have been very ugly, and I’ve elaborated a little, on some things I’ve tried, to boost my sales. It seems like I’ve been doing this for a lot longer than I have, and I do have to keep that in mind, I’ve only been On Kindle for a few months, and have no platform. Roughly between formatting to Kindle (Nick Caya at Word 2 Kindle) has been a good source for that, and copyrighting through The Library of Congress, I haven’t spent that much money. I’ve since spent a few bucks on a web/blog site, something I feel is needed to further push my little endeavor, I’m also getting ready to go YouTube with it.




Let me throw this out there, before I go any further, I’m a guy who really isn’t too adept with computers, I’m learning all this as I go. All this digital stuff I wasn’t too keen on just a year ago, but I see where things are going (even have a song about that as well) and definitely need to learn. I’m doing all this with no money, and my lack of sales probably reflect that. If you have a budget, I would talk to Kim at PPG and see if she can assist you. Kim didn’t know I was going to turn this into a plug for her and PPG. I did so because I’m thinking of how much easier, and how much more I could’ve written had I not been encumbered with the raw marketing aspect of this. I’m on 4 different book sites, and they all talk about how tough it is out there in the land of self publishing. What’s going to make your writing stand out from the rest? What makes it unique? How are you going to interest someone in picking your work out of the masses to get noticed to begin with? I’ve never worked with PPG in that manner, but having researched them a little, I would say that’s where Kim would be worth her weight in gold. In a way, I’m lucky, in the manner that I might could actually market my wares as songs or poems or short stories. I might could tap 3 different markets that way, but I might also anger someone in the process, so I describe them as what they are. If you’re writing SciFi or Romance novels what distinguishes yours from the rest in the vast sea? I think some of these are good questions to ask yourself, if you’re straddling the self publishing fence.

To anyone paying attention, you’ll notice I’ve not mentioned social media other than YouTube. I have nothing against them, I’m just not there yet. My take on social media is I’m not sure how I could use Facebook, I’m not that kind of person. LinkedIn I definitely could and will, then I have some strange ideas about putting Tweeter to work for me (I’ve never used Tweeter in my life), I call it fishing on the Tweeter Sea, and it involves my site being set up completely first. There’s so much more stuff out there, that I’m not even aware of, Welcome to the Digital Age, one of my books is more or less about that, only one song in that one.

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To sum this up “The Journey of The Unknown Author” is a little bit of an arduous journey, if one is looking for immediate monetary rewards, self publishing shouldn’t be at the top of the list. If one has a budget then if it were me, I would look at PPG to stomach the headache. I will restate what I stated in one of my books, this digital thing is here to stay and it’s changing the way business is done. What I’m doing right now, although it isn’t paying out immediately, is securing my future. I’m building a digital platform, that should be around for the long haul, I’ve got some more things to do, but I think the foundation is in place, and that gives me more to build upon. With that stated since you’re reading this on the PPG blog then I assume you know how to get in touch with Kim? If you think you might be interested in my writings, You can try StorySongTales.com the books are on the gallery page, You can go to Amazon/ Kindle and pull up “The Library Days: Suspended Sentence” by R.A Jordan and there should be 2 more right there with it “Hope For Felons: Sentence Complete” and “Unsolicited: A Straight Sentence”. I call them the Sentence series, it’s a play on words which is something I’m fond of. If someone checks them out maybe let me know if they can be pulled up as the Sentence Series. Also it would be nice if someone left me a review on my Author page(these for some reason are tough to get), and then spread the word if you found some enjoyable reading in them! I would like to thank Kim for letting me have this opportunity to share my experience as a fledgling author on her site. And I hope that someone among her subscribers might’ve gleaned something useful from this. Thank You! Robert A Jordan

Visit Robert’s website here.

Visit Robert’s Amazon page here.

© Robert A Jordan 2017

[2017 MWG Conference] When Traditional and Contemporary Publishers Join Together

Afternoon break-out session with Kim Staflund at the 2017 Missouri Writers Guild conference: Mastering the Elevator Pitch

I had the opportunity to present two break-out sessions at the 2017 Missouri Writers Guild conference in Columbia, Missouri, this past weekend: a morning session on dealing with the fear of writing/publishing and an afternoon session on mastering the elevator pitch when selling your manuscript or book. In between time, I had the opportunity to sit in on other educational sessions presented by agents and writers who work within the traditional (trade) publishing sector: Jenny Goloboy presented “Writing the Query Letter” to the authors who were interested in obtaining an agent to help them land a traditional (trade) publishing deal; Tim Waggoner, author of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and Kingsman: The Golden Circle presented an informative talk about novelization (which is turning a movie into a book as opposed to adapting a book for film).

There were also sessions from contemporary (hybrid) publishers similar to PPG as well as self-publishers. One of my favourites was a class about self-publishing by a highly successful independent author of paranormal romance novels named Liz Schulte who earns “six figures” per year from online book sales alone. (Liz has agreed to write a guest post on here for us in the very near future.) I was also inspired by our keynote speaker at the dinner that evening, Sheri Fink. She is also a successful independent author like Liz. Sheri held the number one best seller spot on Amazon for her children’s book titled The Little Rose for 60 weeks straight; and she, too, earns a six-figure income from online book sales and has agreed to write a guest post on here in the near future. Being surrounded by so much talent and creativity certainly inspires one to write! 

New friends and fellow writers/authors from the 2017 Missouri Writers Guild conference: Kim Staflund, Judy Ellsworth Giblin, and Linda Story Runnebaum

These are my people. If I didn’t already know that before, I know it now just based on how motivated I feel after spending time with them. Writers. Authors. Publishers. Agents. All of you. You’re my people.

I think what I admire most about how the Missouri Writers Guild set up this conference was that they brought together people from the traditional (trade) publishing sector along with contemporary (hybrid) publishers and self-publishers. Attendees could draw information and inspiration from both groups to get a fuller picture of this dynamic industry. This is so forward thinking. We need to be doing this type of thing in Canada. In fact, we need to be doing it everywhere. It’s time.

Enjoying a great visit with “my people” at the 2017 Missouri Writers Guild conference

It’s time the traditional publishing sector begins to accept and acknowledge the legitimacy of independent authorship as more and more authors such as Sheri Fink, Liz Schulte, and Mark Dawson prove what’s possible. It’s time to bring together the traditional (trade), contemporary (hybrid), and self-publishers at the writers’ conferences everywhere that have, up to now, been reserved for traditional talent alone.

I’m looking so forward to sharing the upcoming guest posts on this blog with you. I used to spend my time “preaching” about the importance of selling to every author I came across. Now I want to focus on sharing the possibilities of it. I want to inspire authors to take the necessary steps to improve their own sales, and so I’m in search of today’s entrepreneurial authors who can share their success stories and tips with you all. I’ve named three of those authors in today’s post. You’ll hear from two of them directly very soon. Stay tuned!

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



How to Create Your Best Novel

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

Creating your best novel is a team effort. There is the writing portion which you will do on your own, within the solitude of your imagination and writing room. And then there is the “polishing” portion of the process which is equally important to your success and requires an outside team of professionals for best results.

Writing Your Novel

I’ll start by including one of my absolute favourite quotes about writing by Gary Provost:

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.

Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals—sounds that say listen to this, it is important.





It’s beautiful, isn’t it? It’s like music, as he says. This is the kind of writing that will keep an audience engaged. It not only sings to them; but, with the right combination of vivid adjectives and visceral verbs, it can create such authentic, powerful imagery inside their minds that it keeps them turning the pages for more. That’s what you’re after.

And yet, there’s more to writing your best novel. Two more elements must be considered: character development and plot development. Here are two links that go into great detail regarding these two aspects of writing, so I encourage you to click on both and really take in this advice before sitting down to write your book:

Once your novel is written, now the rest of the team comes into play. The best advice I have for all writers—but especially the ones who plan to self-publish—is to get support. Invest in proper copy editing, graphic design, and proofreading. If you’re serious about book publishing and want to present yourself to the public as a professional author, then these things are so important to your end result.

Polishing Your Novel

The fact is, self-publishers’ books are competing in the marketplace with trade publishers’ books. Trade (traditional) publishers always have their books professionally edited. Always. This is why they can boast such high quality. In light of this, can self-publishers truly afford not to have their work copy edited in the very least? It may seem excessive to some, but it is a necessary investment if that author is serious about publishing and competing in the marketplace.

And no matter how engaging your story may be, the public is going to “judge your book by its cover” before they ever decide to read it. In fact, they’ll judge the interior, too. So, the graphic design of your book—both inside and out—should receive the same professional attention as the content itself. Hiring a professional graphic designer is always better than using a generic template builder.




Last but not least, I highly recommend you also hire a professional proofreader—a different set of eyes from your copy editor—to do the following nine-point check of the final designed book before you self-publish it anywhere:

Interior

• the front matter (such as the table of contents) is accurate and correct
• the back matter (such as the index) is accurate and correct
• headers and footers are accurate and correct
• bad breaks are eliminated
• text is kerned to flow smoothly throughout
• margins and trim size all measure properly
• spelling and punctuation is correct

Cover

• spacing, bleeds, and trim size all measure properly
• spelling and punctuation is correct

These are the steps the traditional (trade) publishers put each and every one of their books through. These are the steps you should also take to create your best novel. This extra attention to detail with make a huge difference in the public perception of your book and your overall success as a result.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

[Email Marketing] T-Shaped Marketing for Authors

Kim Staflund: founder and publisher at Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the PPG Publisher’s Blog

In an earlier blog post, I discussed the concept of T-shaped marketing and how today’s authors are using it to sell more books online. To briefly recap, your deep knowledge/ability (the stem of the T) is the content you’ve written about in your book(s) whereas the flat, horizontal part at the top represents the various other creative and analytical skills you can learn to best utilize the Internet in selling your book(s). Email marketing is one of the skills you can learn and use as part of your T-shaped marketing plan.

Books are perfect for email marketing. They go hand in hand. Why? Because email marketing is all about sharing, promoting, and selling information … and a book is an information product.

Here is a fantastic resource regarding email marketing (e.g., finding your perfect niche, setting up your opt-in page, getting email addresses, auto-responders, campaigns, statistics, you name it): The Circle of Profit by Anik Singal. It is a free .PDF that you can download, and it contains all the information you will ever need regarding how to run a successful email marketing business. I’ve read it three times, myself. I get something new out of it every time. That’s how detailed it is.

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After reading this book, I adopted email marketing as part of my overall T-shaped marketing strategy. I think you should, too. And I’ll tell you why with this excerpt from Anik’s book:

Who do you trust more: a friend or a stranger? The answer is obvious: Your friend. And when your email list subscribers start seeing you more as a friend than some random person sending them emails, you’ll get the best response.

Email marketing allows you to reach people in a more direct and personal way than most other kinds of advertising and publicity can. This is your opportunity to really engage with your readers. Become their friend by letting them know a little more about you, the person, rather than just advertising your book(s) to them in an impersonal way. Spend some time getting to know them a little better, too, by replying to their emailed questions with thoughtful answers.

The readers who know and trust you will be your most responsive buyers each and every time you contact them to announce a new book. But this trust must be earned over time by providing quality, valuable content to your subscribers on a consistent basis so they stay engaged with you over the long term. Always remember there are no easy or quick fixes in the world of book sales and marketing.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.