Posts Tagged indie success

Irrefutable Law of Success #1–No Whining

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Memekode.

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Memekode.

When I first started teaching social media to writers, I was new thus insecure. Often, I’d give advice like, “Well, if you don’t like it, don’t do it.” Bad advice. Hey, I’m learning and growing, too. There are a lot of writers out there only doing what they enjoy. That is the masses, the average.

“Average” is the top of the bottom, the best of the worst, the bottom of the top, the worst of the best.” ~John C. Maxwell, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth

This advice to only do what we enjoy might have flown four years ago (though barely). These days? Discoverability is a nightmare for all authors. If we want to do this “writing thing” long-term and be successful?

Average=DEATH

Chasing Sasquatch Wastes Valuable TIME

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Derek Hatfield

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Derek Hatfield

Thing is, I want that job where I never have to do anything I don’t enjoy, but it doesn’t exist. It’s Sasquatch. I don’t enjoy payroll or calling my accountants. I enjoy doing taxes even less.

In fact, I might take on staying one minute in a vat of man-eating pirañas over doing taxes…but the government isn’t going to give me a pass. I can’t call the IRS and say, “You know, as a self-employed person, taxes are super hard. I just really don’t enjoy doing taxes. So we’re cool, right?”

All Jobs Entail Doing the Un-Fun Stuff

Writing is fabulous. It’s the best job in the world. But those who think writing is simply being an artist? Creating? And drinking copious amounts of coffee? There is a word for that; “amateur” (though “wanna-be” can be used as a synonym).

Granted, there was a time when all writers did was write. They drank whiskey by the gallon, chain-smoked and stayed in their hole until it was time to hand their nicotine-stained manuscript to their agents and editors. Back then, writers never had to worry their pretty little heads about all the business stuff (they also suffered a 93% failure rate as late as 2006, per Book Expo of America statistics).

The climate has changed. The world has changed. In 1980, we didn’t have to know how to use a computer to land a premium corporate job. Now, try finding employment at The Gap without possessing even basic computer skills.

Choosing traditional publishing will not free us from the un-fun stuff. Yet, I will admit that, if we choose to go indie or self-publish, we must accept that more un-fun stuff will go with the territory.

Yet, it’s the price we pay for being paid really well to do what we love.

No Whining

Every time I speak at a conference, I have someone in the audience wail, “But I don’t like social media. It’s so haaaaard. I just wanna wriiiiiiiite.”

Don’t we all?

I used to try to placate these writers and encourage them to embrace the new freedom and power a social media platform gives authors. Now? There are too many writers willing to do the hard stuff. There’s a lot of reasons why this business isn’t for everyone.

Suck it up, Buttercup

And yes, maybe I sound mean, but you have no idea how many times I use that same phrase on myself. When I catch myself whining (and, yes, it happens) I remind myself that there are plenty or people willing to fill any vacuum I leave. The hard truth is there are talented, hard-working authors who will gladly take the readers we leave on the table because we only want to do what we find pleasant.

Education and Focus are Key

Recently, on FB, one of my followers posted a link to an author bellyaching about how much he hated self-promotion. This writer went on and on about how haaaard it was, and detailed how he was on every last social media platform known to humankind. How he didn’t like talking about personal stuff and only wanted to talk about himself and his book (yes, ONE book). He lamented how he spent an HOUR a day on Twitter…

….yet failed to see what he was doing wrong.

***Whining keeps us from honestly evaluating our processes.

First of all, professionals don’t whine. Secondly, social media is only as good as our plan. It was clear to me that this writer was making a LOT of obvious mistakes.

  1. Whining—no one likes a whiner. Though I suppose they do. This guy was sniveling as if no one ever responded to him, yet this dreadful post had over 310 shares when I stopped by. Misery loves company (but misery clearly wasn’t translating into sales).
  2. Lack of Focus—we can’t be everywhere. WANA methods are about selecting the right social platform for our audience, then having laser focus.
  3. More Writing—an HOUR on Twitter a DAY? Seriously? O_o. I’m good to have an hour on Twitter a WEEK. Less can be more. Understanding how to properly use social media can save precious time, which should be reserved for doing the most important aspect of what we do…WRITE MORE BOOKS.

Study all the indie successes and most became successful AFTER BOOK THREE. John Locke didn’t sell a million copies of ONE book in five months. The same is true for traditional authors. Flukes aside, most successful traditional authors gained market traction at or after BOOK THREE.

Time for a Gut Check

We all whine. I do. I do it a lot less and have become better at catching myself early in the process. Whining is negative. Whining sees only problems, not solutions. It drains valuable creative energy. It discourages us and stands in the way of progress.

Winners don’t whine.

If something is hard, look to mentors and resources. Sometimes we don’t like doing something because we’re afraid of it. Why are we afraid? We don’t understand it. Ignorance breeds fear, often irrational fear. 

WANA rests on simplicity and timelessness. Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is designed to make social media fast, effective and fun. It’s designed to harness the creative personality, not change it. Because of this, WANA methods have been responsible for selling hundreds of thousands of books and elevating unknowns into record books.

Right now, I am reading all kinds of business books and books on strategic planning and management. Why? Because I was WHINING! I caught myself mid-whine, then decided to look for solutions instead of spinning the Wheels of Self-Pity.

Whiny Me: “I’m just not naturally good at administration.” 

Hard@$$ Me: “Suck it up, Buttercup.”

Have you caught yourself whining? What did you do? Was your whining birthed from fear? Were you able to find solutions once you faced what scared you?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of August, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

ANNOUNCEMENTS: I have a class coming up SOON, Creating Conflict and Tension on Every Page if you want to learn how to apply these tactics to your writing. Use WANA15 to get 15% off.

Also, August 21st, I am running a Your First Five Pages webinar. Bronze is $40 and Gold is $55 (I look at your first five pages) and use WANA15 for 15% off.

The webinars are all recorded in case you can’t make the time and a PDF with notes will be sent to you following the class.

Also, my new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.

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How Many Licks, um Books, Does It Take to Get to the Top of the Best-Seller List?

The Dork Side

Image courtesy of The Dork Side

Most of us, especially when we’re new, want our first short story to be a major contest winner or our first novel to be a runaway success. That’s natural. Of course, this is not reality for us mere mortals.

Just like most of us never picked up a violin and magically busted out a flawless rendition of Flight of the Bumblebee, most of us won’t sit down and write a work that hits the New York Times best-seller list the first go round (or that sells a bazillion copies on Amazon, if you’re an indie).

Yeah, I was bummed, too.

Writing, like most other things, follows the Law of 10,000 Hours (Read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers for more). 10,000 hours of dedicated practice/work/study/training seems to be the magic number that separates the successful professional from everyone else.

Whether it is gymnastics, ballet, playing the ukelele, or writing, practice is key if we want to become masters of our pursuit.

*shock face* :O

This is why we need to write as often as possible, and it’s HUGE reason I am a proponent of writers learning to blog. Blogging can help accelerate the path to mastery, and has an added benefit of helping build a lasting author platform that can help drive sales.

History demonstrates time and again that it takes roughly 10,000 hours (or a million words, depending on who we listen to) to reach the status of true artist and masters of our craft.

Additionally, most authors write at least three books before they start seeing success, which is part of why successful novelists like Bob Mayer, Joe Konrath, and John Locke are constantly telling writers to do less tweeting and more writing. They’re correct. Write, write, write. Great to have a social platform, but we need books to sell or the platform is merely a monument to our Facebook skills.

Guess how long it takes to write three novels?

About 10,000 hours.

Three books minimum.

Thus, all you indie/self-pub authors who put your first book up for sale and you haven’t sold enough copies to buy tacos? Keep writing. 10,000 hours. 3 books. Traditional authors? Three books. Rare is the exception.

The more we write, the better we get (ideally). If the first novel is “eh” keep writing. To paraphrase some Monty Python:

I wrote a book! …and it sank into the swamp.

So, I wrote another book! It, too, sank into the swamp.

So, I wrote another book! …. And it caught fire, fell over…and sank into the swamp.

But the fourth book, THE FOURTH BOOK STOOD.

Happy writing! And follow The Dork Side on Facebook if you want to laugh regularly.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? How much practice do you do daily? How much did you write before you started actually thinking your writing was any good…and other people didn’t run away bleeding from the ears?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

NOTE: December’s winner will be announced Monday.

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of January I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

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