One of the reasons I encourage writers to blog and to read blogs is that you will find inspiration all around you. A dear friend of mine, Steve Tobak, has a MASSIVE blog following and is the business blogger for CBS, Fox Business and Inc.
I love reading his posts about entrepreneurs because so much applies to authors (we are entrepreneurs of a different sort, but still entrepreneurs). The other day, he had a post called 7 Things Confident Leaders Don’t Do, and I am going to take the liberty of retooling this for writers.
In a world full of wanna-be best-sellers, confident writers don’t:
1. Do What Everyone Else is Doing
Find your own voice and tell your own story. Don’t write to the market. Find the publishing path that works for you. If self-publishing works for you, your budget and your personality, great. The stigma is fading, so be bold. If you want creative control and yearn to make the kind of living you see other indies making, go for it!
But, if you really want to go traditional, then feel good about that choice. Just make sure you have a great agent or lawyer (like Susan Spann) who can negotiate a contract that is favorable to you and your goals.
2. Worry About Weakness
Writers all suffer from an odd mix of narcissism and deep-seated insecurity. We have to have a big enough ego to believe that we have a story others will want to pay money to read, yet at the same time we worry the world will hate it and throw digital tomatoes at us.
Acknowledge weakness. Work to strengthen it, but don’t lose sleep over it. I see a lot of writers who are so terrified of failing, it paralyzes forward momentum. They edit the same book for six years trying to make it perfect instead of just shipping and moving on to the next book.
They bank everything on one book and spend hours looking at sales and reviews instead of just doing the one thing that will help them be successful…writing MORE books!
3. Waste a Lot of Time
If we want to have what no one else has, we can’t do what everyone else does. When others are going to the mall, watching television or goofing off playing Farmville, we need to be working. Real artists have a vision and go after that vision with focused intensity.
4. Try to Be Successful
Successful writers write. They know that success in this business rarely comes with one book. John Locke didn’t sell a million books in six months with ONE book. He did it with 12. I see too many writers publish one book and then beat the hell out of all of us spamming about their books. In trying to be successful, they do a lot of dumb moves that common sense would dictate is a bad idea.
Yesterday, I was on Twitter when I saw this:
I don’t know this writer and have never read his books, yet it didn’t stop him from trying to use MY NAME to sell books. On what planet is this a good idea? When writers TRY to be successful, they listen to dumb marketing advice and spend more time selling instead of writing.
5. Breathe Their Own Fumes
Be open to criticism. Surrounding ourselves with yes-men is dangerous and keeps us from growing. That’s one of the reasons I ask for thoughts and opinions at the end of my posts (other than I do LOVE hearing from you). I never mind disagreement so long as it’s respectful. I can’t grow if I don’t know what needs to come up higher.
When I wrote my short story Dandelion I sent it to people I knew would be brutal. All of them loved the story, but most saw things I didn’t. The changes took a good story to a fantastic story that I am very proud of. But I am human. I wanted a fluffy kitten hug of “Kristen, all your words are GOLD!” yet, I didn’t. The problems they pointed out were dead on, and I was able to make the right changes.
Too many new writers are publishing books without going to people who will give them honesty. The problem is that instead of getting the rough truth in private, they get the brutal truth PUBLICLY and PERMANENTLY in one and two-star reviews from ticked off readers.
6. Fear Competition
Competition is just part of what we do. Good for us that books are not so cost-prohibitive that people can’t buy more than one. Thing is, there will always be someone who is a better writer than we are. Learn from them. I hear a lot of new writers (and I was once guilty, too) groan about certain best-sellers and tear down the writer and the book. Instead, read it. Try to see why that book resonated and broke out.
7. Try to Be What They’re Not
Most writers aren’t doing this “writing thing” until our dream job in sales comes our way. A lot of the reason that so much writer marketing is annoying and lame is artists are trying to be “power marketers.”
Less marketing and more writing.
Talk to people and build community and leave the mega-marketing to Madison Avenue. WANA methods don’t try to change your personality, so you have far greater odds of success because people will feel your social media activities are authentic.
What are some other qualities of confident authors that I might have missed? What are your thoughts? Opinions?
Note about PajamaCon Winners: We are giving the week for those who want to send in an entry to send it in. Will announce winners on MONDAY.
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of February, 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 novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
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 February I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!