Why Writing Isn’t Enough—The Savvy Writer’s Guide to Success

Image via Drew Coffman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Image via Drew Coffman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Today, we’re going to do something a little different. You want to know one thing I love probably more than anything in the world? Spotting great talent and getting to share it. Thus, today I would like to introduce you to one of my followers who snagged my attention over the holidays and I asked her to come and share her wisdom today because I think we can all gain something from her (even me because am always learning BAY-BEE!).

I would like to introduce, Britt Skrabanek!

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Indie Author Britt Skrabanek

Indie Author Britt Skrabanek

A lot of you may be wondering how I ended up on Kristen’s blog in the first place. She’s pretty big-time, an influencer—she’s worked her tail off to build her brand presence. Many of us look to her for writing tips we can actually use, knowing some esoteric BS like “If you write it, they will come” will not be waiting in our inbox to insult us.

Chances are, you have no idea who in the heck I am.  But, Ha! Now you do😀 .

I’m an indie author.

Image via Drew Coffman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Image via Drew Coffman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

The other thing I am, even though it’s more difficult to say than “writer”…I’m a businesswoman. Me—a beer-drinking, tree-hugging Yogi in Portland—I’m in the marketing biz.

When Kristen and I were working out logistics for the topic of this guest piece, she said to use my business/social media wisdom with you guys. In her typical no-nonsense wisdom, Kristen said: “There is some savvy to this.”

You know what? There is.

Writing here is a big honor for me. I’ve been following Kristen’s blog since I started my indie author adventure many moons ago. The reason why she was kind enough to invite me over to her place was, quite simply, because I did some savvy marketing.

I was greatly inspired by one of her blogs on branding, Why Our Author Brand is More Important Than Ever. So I mentioned her in the post I wrote, and though we hadn’t talked more beyond a casual conversation on her blog, I asked if she would share it on social.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 8.58.53 AM

She shocked the hell out of me when she asked me to write a full piece on her blog. My small-time blogger heart went pitter-patter. You know what? I took a chance with a marketing tactic and put myself out there. All she could say was No. But maybe…just maybe, she’d say YES.

😀.

Many of you introverted writer types are totally cringing right now. But if you want others to know what you’ve written, you have to do more than shut up and write.

Writing is only half the battle. We have to market it—tell people about it and hope to God they’ll listen.

Quitting Is Easy, Not Savvy

Like many of you, I threw myself into this writing thing without knowing diddly-squat about marketing, sales, and branding. I believe that writing a novel is one of the greatest achievements of the creative mind, and though anyone can self-publish, not just anyone can pull it off.

Wallpaper image courtesy of David Turnbull via Flickr Creative Commons

Wallpaper image courtesy of David Turnbull via Flickr Creative Commons

Sure, they can put some crap out there on a whim. Amazon makes the process nice and easy—and free. To actually write a novel, you must have a die-hard imagination, you have to be relentlessly organized, and above all, you have to have the vision to see it through.

WAY back in 2012 when I self-published my first book, Beneath the Satin Gloves, I thought people were going to buy it. Real cute, isn’t it?

With great diligence, I followed the indie author rules. I had the almighty platform, with a weekly blog and consistent social media posts. Such a sweet little nobody writer I was…I started building my platform two months before my book release.

So, you can guess what happened. My friends and family, out of pity and curiosity, were my paying customers—my only fans. After that release weekend, my sales fell off.

I’m not going to lie to you. I was devastated and I wanted to quit writing. I was editing the final draft of my second book when all of this was going on, and I had to stop before I chucked my laptop out the window.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Sally Jean

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Sally Jean

About a week later, my temper tantrum was done. There was no moment of clarity or anything—I just realized how ridiculously naïve I had been. As Kristen said, there’s some savvy to this. We can write a badass book, but it will never see the light of day if we don’t learn how to sell it.

To sell our book, we don’t need to sell our souls, but we do need to sell ourselves.

Why Writing Isn’t Enough

I’ve self-published three novels and I still have a day job. I know how heartbreaking it is to hear that writing isn’t enough. Writing the best content possible—whether it’s a blog post, a tweet, or a full-on novel—is a must-do. Also, a must-do is engaging people. One of the ways I’ve found to make a living as a writer has nothing to do with fiction. (Shocked, aren’t you?)

I’m a Content Manager at a B2B (Business to Business) marketing agency. While writing about email metrics and marketing automation isn’t as fun as writing about a lounge-singing female spy in WWII Berlin, I’ll tell you what is fun about it. I get to learn what it takes to get people’s attention.

Everyone's a critic...

Everyone’s a critic…

Because every business has a blog these days, we’re in the same boat as indie authors. That boat is rickety as all get-out, and most of the time we’re trying not to sink into the sea of online noise.

We have to work our buns off within our niche, we have to provide value to our target audience, and we have to be consistent and tactical.

These are the non-negotiables of creating content to bring awareness to your brand. Awareness is just the tip of the iceberg of the buying cycle, and people have a very long way to go before they make a decision to buy.

I know that’s a lot of B2B jargon, but I hope you’re still with me. Because these realizations are critical for any indie author to understand.

Knowing this will keep you from bailing on your dreams.

There Are No Short-Cuts in Marketing

Image courtesy of EpSos De via Flickr Creative Commons

Image courtesy of EpSos De via Flickr Creative Commons

By now, you may be thinking that I’m just a spineless marketer. As a fellow indie, I’m just trying to keep it real. If we go back to this savvy idea, think about what that means. Someone who’s savvy is intelligent, but they’re also cool and charismatic.

As writers, we have to be Rico Suave. Remember that song? Watch this and you can have it stuck in your head for a week. You’re welcome…

In the 90s it was a one-hit wonder, but the singer, Gerardo, left us with an unforgettable image. Like “ubered,” Rico Suave crept into our English slang. Seriously, it’s in Urban Dictionary. This is branding, people.

We’re running a business. We creative types freak when we hear this, but the likelihood and longevity of our writing careers depends on it.

Have you ever seen a business become a sensation overnight? Me neither.

Starry eyes can happen to anyone—not just indies. In fact, starry eyes happen to businesspeople all the time, and guess what? Their business fails.

I had the craziest conversation with a guy I know, who is basically a B2B marketing superstar writer. He really has a handle on business writing and blows my mind with his ability to bust out copy on a daily basis that consistently engages people.

BUT, Mr. Savvy B2B Marketer had starry eyes when he started his personal blog. I had seen his first blog post release, and I congratulated him. As we talked, he told me he wanted to have 5,000 blog subscribers by the end of the first month.

My jaw dropped open. 5,000 subscribers in the first month? Holy s*&t…how?!

I asked him to share his master plans, because with almost four years of blogging under my belt, I have yet to reach 1,000 subscribers. (P.S. This is something I’m totally okay with, because engagement is more important than follower numbers any day.)

Anyhoo, he discussed duplicating the blog content on LinkedIn and possibly some social ads.

Aha, aha. Though I would never dare to copy and paste the exact blog content on LinkedIn to potentially piss off the Google Gods, I nodded along with the tactics. Getting your content in front of different audiences through different channels is good stuff.

I waited for more master plans that never came. We talked a couple of months later, and he was disappointed in his traffic. He wore that defeated writer expression I was all too familiar with, and he was already considering quitting his blog.

Because 5,000 subscribers in the first month of blogging would be a damn miracle and…because there are no shortcuts in marketing.

So, How Do We Stand Out as Writers?

AHHHHHHH!

AHHHHHHH!

Write good s&*t and become Rico Suave. Kidding, kidding. Kind of.

As devout followers of Kristen’s blog, you all know there are so many elements at play, and one measly blog post isn’t going to cover it.

I’ll be completely candid with you guys and tell you I’m one of the most impatient people I know. Now perseverance is a very different thing. Perseverance will propel you forward, so you can finish the novel you’ve been working on for three years. Impatience will disappoint you, make you think you’re not good enough when people don’t come running to buy your book you worked so hard on.

Impatience doesn’t serve us in the self-publishing world. Perseverance does.

I know we’re sick of hearing it, but it takes time. Building a brand/business is a necessary part of being an indie author, and it doesn’t happen on its own.

We have to keep going. We have to be savvy. And most of all, we have to do it for the love.

***

THANK YOU, Britt! Just so you guys know, I actually do pay attention when you link to me or talk to me. Most posts I do take time to read and this year my goal is going to be cultivating and promoting a fresh crop of W.A.N.A. talent because that’s what W.A.N.A. is all about. Teamwork. Big fish helping the baby fish so THEY can become big fish…who then help the next baby fishies.

I hope you enjoyed Britt’s perspective and please check out her site and all her social networks are listed at the bottom of this post so you can follow her. I asked her here simply because I wanted you to know that what you are feeling right now is NOT unique to writers. Yes, most of my job is working with you guys, but I’m also a consultant for I.Q. Solutions in major big brand marketing with companies like Absolut, Budweiser, Luis Vuitton, etc.

Trust me, when we are in a world that BEER companies are struggling? You know it’s tough.

I can tell you that even the big names are having to hustle to keep, gain or maintain an edge. So don’t get too hard on yourself because this is just the tough reality of the digital age. We cannot do business like it’s 1992 and survive let alone thrive.

But good news is… We Are Not Alone.

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. 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.

And yes, I am a complete and total slacker. December’s winner will be announced later because I seriously had three posts go viral. Great problem to have…but tabulating a winner? Gonna take a little time. Love you *air kiss*

Remember to check out the new classes listed at W.A.N.A International.  

Registration for Branding for Authors has been EXTENDED (thanks to me getting a stomach bug). This is your best way to get PAID in the digital age. We have to cultivate that 1000 die hard fans who won’t settle for FREE.

Also, I have one craft class listed.

THIS SATURDAY Your Story in a Sentence—Crafting Your Log-Line. Our stories should be simple enough to tell someone what the book is about in ONE sentence. If we can’t do this, often there is a plot problem. This class is great for teaching you how to be master plotters and the first TEN SIGNUPS get their log-line shredded for free, so you will be agent ready for the coming year.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

Britt Skrabanekis the spirited indie novelist of Nola Fran Evie, Everything’s Not Bigger, and Beneath the Satin Gloves. Her blog is a whimsical snapshot of life, musings, and the glory of the written word. She is blissfully married, has two delightfully incorrigible cats, and loves to experience the world—all of its quirky beauty inspires her endlessly. When she’s not writing, she’s a bike-riding Yogi who loves to dance.

Links: Website | Amazon Author Page | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | YouTube

 

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  1. #1 by weissblut on January 25, 2016 - 11:16 am

    That is incredibly true in the era of self-publishing, but it is true also for authors published by small presses. No one but the Big5 are gonna do proper marketing campaigns for you, so you better get your hands dirty.

    Shamefully this cuts out people who might have written the new Catcher in the Rye, because they’re uber-talented writers, but not the marketing types. Industry is very broken at the moment😦

    • #2 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 25, 2016 - 11:19 am

      Those major marketing campaigns actually don’t work. The big publishers do them to make authors feel better but they don’t even make a dent in actual sales.

      I don’t know if it is broken. We had a 93% failure rate up until 2006. This included traditionally published authors. Only one out of ten traditionally published authors ever saw a second book in print. How many works NEVER made it to market at ALL because NY was too busy looking for sparkly vampires because they sold? Traditional publishing nearly drove various forms of writing into extinction because of profit margins. They nearly obliterated the novella, the short story, the epic, poetry and not to mention various genres because they weren’t “commercial.” Books like “Wool” or “The Martian” would never have even made it to market.

      I tend to be an optimist. And marketing doesn’t have to be all spreadsheets. It really is about connecting with the audience and cultivating a bond.

      • #3 by weissblut on January 25, 2016 - 11:28 am

        I agree, they don’t really work, but they’re good in creating the hype. But hype only creates traffic, not sales.

        Being published with a traditional publisher does nothing to you or your name but – maybe – just creates a bit of credentials for your next query. You won’t make money out of it, you won’t make a brand out of it. It’s a self-sustaining thing. Once upon a time small presses were out there to publish what Big5 would not. Now they’re here to try and piggyback some money out of trends (Diversity is the new big thing, with all due respect) or “small” but trustful niches like Fantasy etc.

        So yes, the kind of marketing you’re talking about is not really marketing traditionally intended; it’s engaging people-to-people, it’s human interaction. We tend to care for each other. That works.

        Still, I’d love to see a publishing house that goes back 50 years, and take risks into publishing the new Faulkner. Let’s hope, I’m an optimist myself!

        • #4 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 25, 2016 - 11:48 am

          Your new indie publishers are doing that. Remember that a lot of new publishers are doing great things. They have the strict guidelines of the Big 5 and a lot of the talent and resources, but without the bloated overhead so they can be more innovative. The Big 5 cannot afford to take those kinds of risks. They are not lean and mean like this new breed of publisher. Not every indie publisher out there is a one-man operation out of a kitchen🙂 .

          • #5 by weissblut on January 25, 2016 - 12:00 pm

            I might have missed it, but if you have a list of innovators in the space, be it a one man gig or a five hundred people org: bring it on!🙂

  2. #6 by J.A. Stinger on January 25, 2016 - 11:18 am

    Reblogged this on .

  3. #7 by areece on January 25, 2016 - 11:32 am

    Reblogged this on Amy Reece and commented:
    I love sharing Kristen’s words of wisdom! Thanks for another great blog post!

  4. #8 by Glenda Beall on January 25, 2016 - 11:34 am

    Kristen, this is an excellent post by Britt. Too many newly published writers think their book is going to become a best seller and it will happen in a few months. I teach writers and mentor new writers. One thing I tell them right away is they will have to market their books. Many come to me after their book is out and ask what they should do now. It takes time and so much more. Blogs don’t catch on right away. Learning to blog successfully takes education in blogging. In our culture of instant gratification, it is often hard for writers to realize the work involved in building a brand, building a readership and connecting to the right people.
    I have your site listed on my favorites on my blog. You give writers good information and you don’t sugar-coat the challenges

    • #9 by Britt Skrabanek on January 25, 2016 - 2:22 pm

      Indeed, Glenda! Writing a book is just so dang hard, and I think it is natural for us to hope that once we put it out there, people will magically pick it up. I went through this and I always hear other writers working on their first book repeating the same starry-eyed mistakes. I suppose we all have to live and learn.

      The instant gratification thing doesn’t fly in the writing world. So, I buy myself good food and beer, and the occasional massage to smooth out the ride.😉

  5. #10 by sharonhughson on January 25, 2016 - 11:37 am

    Hello, Britt-
    I’m also a web-footed Oregonian (if you are indeed from Portland, OR and not Portland, ME).
    I am always amazed when people set crazy goals for their blogs or new books when they’ve never written anything. I will admit I’m not the typical indie author. I have titles out there – only one is self-pubbed, the others are with small indie presses. And I did a jig when my latest short story anthology inclusion showed up on my Goodreads page (I need to make sure it got added to Amazon still). “I have FOUR titles on my author page” I said to my husband, while gyrating in a completely unmusical fashion down the hallway.
    But I don’t watch the sales numbers. The only time I did was the week I put my self published title FREE and I wanted to see if my Tweets and such were actually bringing it any exposure. Because it only recently reached SIX reviews on Amazon and until it gets more, they aren’t even going to recommend it.
    My husband is an engineer. He lets me write full-time (I’m also a substitute teacher because I feel guilty not paying for my own conferences, cover artists and editors). I don’t know if I ever want to be someone who watches the sales numbers. But I do want to be an author who people read. Why would I write otherwise?
    Thanks for sharing your wisdom. Kristen is an awesome mentor, who really practices what she preaches about paying it forward.
    Now to go check out your website…

    • #11 by Britt Skrabanek on January 25, 2016 - 2:25 pm

      Hey, hey, Sharon! Yes, the NW Portland.🙂

      Watching the sales numbers is super stressful. I check sales around the time of a book release or promo, then let it go (with the occasional check-in for the sake of curiosity.) It can definitely steal your writing mojo away, so it’s a good move to keep writing and forget the numbers.

      Yes, Kristen rocks!

  6. #12 by jrosebooks on January 25, 2016 - 11:49 am

    Thanks for visiting and sharing your insights!

    • #13 by Britt Skrabanek on January 25, 2016 - 2:26 pm

      It’s very awesome to be here! Thanks for commenting.

  7. #14 by Niina on January 25, 2016 - 12:01 pm

    Thanks, this was an interesting post! It’s true that being a writer is so much more than just writing and it does take time to built a brand. Still, posts like these make it a bit more easier since we realize there are others going through the same thing.

    • #15 by Britt Skrabanek on January 25, 2016 - 2:29 pm

      There is SO much more to writing! It’s crazy to realize that, since keeping up with a blog or writing books definitely take a ton of effort.

      One of my favorite things about blogging is having such a supportive community of writers to give me hugs when I need them. We’re all in it together!

      And, here’s a hug if you want it… O

      • #16 by Niina on January 25, 2016 - 4:05 pm

        Every hug is a welcome hug🙂 ! O

  8. #17 by thesexiestwriter on January 25, 2016 - 12:12 pm

    You had me at Rico Suave…

    Seriously, this is the perfect example of branding. There’s no substance, just “attitude” and panache. And that’s all it took for him to sell. Sadly, he had nothing else to offer and the market quickly walked away. We all have to pick our niche, market the hell out of it, and bust our butts. But in the end, if there’s no substance, you may go the way of the dodo…or the Gerardo.

    The sad thing is that if you don’t have the marketing you don’t get seen, but the uptick is that if you can find the marketing or “get lucky” substance will eventually be noticed, maybe even appreciated.

    • #18 by Britt Skrabanek on January 25, 2016 - 2:33 pm

      Haha, awesome! Isn’t Rico Suave the best?🙂

      At first I was thinking about the coolness of the term, then I realized that Gerardo was really selling that image. Many years later, we’re still referencing him, which is saying something.

      I think it’s good to find a balance with marketing, but to always keep writing. We have to keep on, keeping on.

  9. #19 by C.L. Mannarino on January 25, 2016 - 12:13 pm

    Perseverance is good–perseverance I can do!🙂

  10. #21 by Britt Skrabanek on January 25, 2016 - 12:35 pm

    Thank you SO much for inviting me over, Kristen! This is surreal. Really appreciate the opportunity!

  11. #22 by Lori L MacLaughlin on January 25, 2016 - 12:44 pm

    Thanks for the informative post! Marketing is frightening, but there’s no way around it. All you can do is jump in and figure out what works best for you.

    • #23 by Britt Skrabanek on January 25, 2016 - 2:34 pm

      Totally, Lori! I’ve learned a lot over the years with my indie writing career, as well as my professional marketing career. I can honestly tell you that there is so much experimentation involved. Test some things and see what works for you!

  12. #24 by laurieboris on January 25, 2016 - 12:51 pm

    Thank you, Britt and Kristen! One of the toughest lessons I’ve learned–and I’m still learning, six novels in–is to stop assuming there’s an “easy” button to this marketing thing, one that I don’t have the launch codes for. It’s hard work, and if I’m not doing it, that’s all on me. It’s comforting to know that other writers are also going through this, and that we’re part of a community.

    • #25 by Britt Skrabanek on January 25, 2016 - 2:36 pm

      Hey, Laurie! After my third book was when I really understood that the “easy” button was non-existent. Love that you mentioned launch codes…and hey, let me know if you find those out.🙂

      The writing community is very warm and supportive. Thank goodness for that! Definitely helps keep us all going.

  13. #26 by Carrie Rubin on January 25, 2016 - 1:04 pm

    Fun to see you over here, Britt! Wonderful post. I hear you about the perseverance. We need it in our writing, and we need it in the promotion of our writing. Every day.

    • #27 by Britt Skrabanek on January 25, 2016 - 2:38 pm

      Hey, Miss Carrie! Great to see you in this neck of the woods. I really like keeping “perseverance” in my writing vision. It’s a word that helps keep me sane.

  14. #28 by kimwrtr on January 25, 2016 - 1:07 pm

    Reblogged this on Kim's Author Support Blog.

  15. #29 by Hayson Manning on January 25, 2016 - 1:17 pm

    Awesome and timely post. I zipped over and signed up for Britt’s blog. I love her blog and agree it is all about helping each other.I’m new/late to blogging and would rather sing the national anthem naked. I understand in this day and age, with millions of authors trying to swim on Amazon, if you don’t have a platform your little raft will sink. I read your blog daily and always learn

    • #30 by Britt Skrabanek on January 25, 2016 - 11:11 pm

      Awesome, Hayson! So great to meet you. You’re welcome to sing the national anthem naked over at my place any time. I’ll get some other introverted writers to join us.😉

      There are so many people self-publishing these days! Seems like a friend’s mom or dad is releasing books monthly. I jokingly say our pets will be on Amazon soon. Hell, most of them have Instagram accounts already!

  16. #31 by torisurfergirl on January 25, 2016 - 1:41 pm

    Reblogged this on Let the Ink Run Free and commented:
    I thought it as self-evident but maybe not. You can write till there’s nothing left, but you MUST market it. Put yourself out there. Marketing and Branding are like different versions of writing.

    ~Let The Ink Run Free

    • #32 by Britt Skrabanek on January 25, 2016 - 11:12 pm

      Thanks for reblogging this! Marketing and branding are absolutely different versions of writing. That’s why I was able to find a career path there.

  17. #33 by shalilah2002 on January 25, 2016 - 2:05 pm

    After just reading some of this I am glad I don’t care about writing a book but write for enjoyment. Whatever my brand is still lifestyles sometimes different ones

    • #34 by Britt Skrabanek on January 25, 2016 - 11:13 pm

      Writing for enjoyment is crucial no matter where we take it. “Just enjoy” is a little mantra I like to tell myself whenever I forget why I started writing in the first place.

  18. #35 by nicolegrabner on January 25, 2016 - 2:16 pm

    I loved this, but really wanted to hear more about how we stand out as authors. I know that in our uber-digital age high value content is priceless. However, my next question would be, as authors, how do we stand out from all the other content out there?

    • #36 by MichaelLachmanWrites on January 25, 2016 - 3:58 pm

      I think a better idea would be to used what’s popular. Use marketing techniques similar to movies. Make a kickass book trailer, use memes, etc. Look at things that went viral and put your own spin on it. (And a controversy or two wouldn’t hurt.)

    • #37 by Britt Skrabanek on January 25, 2016 - 11:20 pm

      That’s the million dollar question, Nicole! We ask that constantly at the marketing agency I work at. I think it would be difficult to answer in one blog post, because there are so many marketing tactics worth exploring.

      Experimentation is key—see what works for you and what doesn’t. I can rattle some things off: video is still a great way to stand out in our community, LinkedIn publishing is also another avenue for extending the reach of your content. More than anything, I’m a firm believer in cultivating relationships—which takes A LOT of time. Once you have those relationships, guest blog whenever you can to expand your audience.

      Phew! This is seriously a question that could turn into months of blog content! I gave it a try in the comment section though.😉

  19. #38 by lalouziane on January 25, 2016 - 2:58 pm

    How nice it would be if we could just write. I never wanted to go the traditional route, I wanted to be indie from the time I decided I was going to write a book. Being indie means… we have to blog, we have to brand and we have to do more than just write.

    Great article.

    • #39 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:12 am

      Imagine how much extra time we would have if we could just write!🙂

      From what I understand, all of us (self-published, small publisher, even some of the big publishers) have to do more than just write nowadays. Marketing used to be a lot more controlled and expensive, but now it’s a free-for-all with the way technology has become so available. As a result, establishing an online presence is a must for every writer, so we have to find a balance.

      • #40 by lalouziane on January 26, 2016 - 5:12 pm

        Totally agree. But that is a lot of new skills for many of us to learn. Still, the world is wide open for us! I think it’s an exciting time to be an author.

  20. #41 by Sheila on January 25, 2016 - 2:58 pm

    Nice job, Britt! I definitely have a love-hate relationship going on with any form of social media, but the best part is finding friends out there like you. It’s true that sometimes all we can do is persevere and keep writing for the love of it – and it helps when we’re able to do all of that together.

    • #42 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:16 am

      Hey, hey, Sheila doll! I hear ya. Social media can totally be the rabbit hole, but I am so happy to have made so many amazing connections along the way.

      I never imagined being a professional writer would require so many skills beyond writing. Perseverance and love will always help get us through.

  21. #43 by Laurie Young on January 25, 2016 - 3:00 pm

    You always have the best information, this post is great. I’m still finishing my novel, however, so I’m a long way from needing to think about marketing it. I’m a long way from finishing it. But one day, I will go back to all your posts that I’ve bookmarked and be ready to kick ass!

    • #44 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 25, 2016 - 3:28 pm

      Oh Hon you are NOT a long way. You start building a brand NOW. You do not want to start when you are ready to sell. That is a formula to cut your wrists. The day you decide to write a novel is the day you decide to begin building a brand and a platform. It makes a HUGE difference.

      • #45 by MichaelLachmanWrites on January 25, 2016 - 4:00 pm

        I agree. I’m editing my first book, which I intend to come out with in March, but I’ve already started a blog and created a marketing plan, been working on marketing materials, etc.

        • #46 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:23 am

          Awesome work, Michael! You’re on it, especially with the marketing plan and materials. Good luck out there!

    • #48 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:21 am

      So glad you found the post useful around such good company on Kristen’s blog, Laurie!

      Totally agree with what Kristen said. It’s never too early to start building your presence. Besides planting the seed about your upcoming book release, that will give you time to fine tune your voice, sharpen your writing/communication skills, and grow your audience.

  22. #49 by Jan Rider Newman on January 25, 2016 - 3:03 pm

    Hard words to hear, Britt, but I do hear them. Inspiring post.

    • #50 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:21 am

      Sometimes we need the tough love, right Jan? Kristen’s good at whipping us into shape.

  23. #51 by A. Colsin on January 25, 2016 - 3:11 pm

    My head is spinning, but spinning with truths, wee! This post described me to a tee when it comes to the introverted indie who sneers at the thought of putting themselves out there for all to see. Social media? Hiss! Pretty much my motto. But I’ve recently been trying to interact a little more, and so far so good! I won’t say I’ve made any irrevocable friends or other types of connections yet, but I’m workin’ it here anyway. Might slip, fall, and bust my ass in the process, but considering it’s already busted from the work I put into my writing, well, there’s no reason to stop now, right? 🙂

    • #52 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:27 am

      I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve busted my ass. That’s half the fun!

      I think we all have a love/hate relationship with social, but it really is an unbeatable way for us to communicate with people we would never be able to otherwise. The close connections will happen over time. Then you’ll have a lovely support group (or tribe, if you prefer) who will help spread the word for you, typically buy your books, and pick you up off the floor when you bust your ass.🙂

      • #53 by A. Colsin on January 26, 2016 - 2:05 pm

        Man, I hope they don’t mind the load! 😀 But you’re right most definitely, and if I need to work on anything, it’s networking (sadly, the internet isn’t immune to social anxiety!) but, as you’d said, perseverance is the key. 🙂

  24. #54 by Angela Maree Barnett on January 25, 2016 - 4:02 pm

    Oh I love your indie honesty in this post. I wear both a writer and marketeer hat on different days and for a while I thought one was the dream and the other was the means. And then I saw this brilliant TED talk from M.I.A’s drummer, Kiran Gandhi. She talks about ‘atomic living’ and how it’s OK to wear different hats, and follow different paths as they keep us inspired.

    Knowing how to market things (which involves a whole lot of listening and creativity) makes us better writers. Warrior on.

    Here’s the talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DH_fS3GU5Bc

    • #55 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:34 am

      Indie honesty…love that! I can tell you’re into marketing with the way you threw that phrase together.🙂

      Once a month I attend Creative Mornings here in Portland. (They have them all over the world if you haven’t checked them out.) Anyhoo, I had a similar moment of clarity about wearing different hats when I saw Storm Tharp a couple of months ago. He discussed the dual forces throughout his life, with fine art and commercial work. Super interesting in case you want to hear his talk… https://creativemornings.com/talks/storm-tharp/1

      I’ll definitely check out that TED talk…thanks!

  25. #56 by lilapinord on January 25, 2016 - 4:35 pm

    I am also a shy, introverted writer with four finished published novels, but not much in the way of sales. I love to write. It’s the promotion that slows me down. I read your blogs and everyone Else’s
    I find along the way, but…Yours inspire me though so will keep trying. Meanwhile, I have a novel to finish…
    Lila L Pinord

    • #57 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:36 am

      I’m in the middle of my fourth novel right now and the sales from all of my books certainly aren’t enough for me to throw in the towel at work and go full indie. Sounds like you’re involved in the blogging community, which is a great way to build relationships and learn from others in the trenches.

      Keep trying, keep writing. That’s all we can do.

  26. #58 by P.D. Workman on January 25, 2016 - 5:37 pm

    So true! I have seen it mentioned that most (indie) authors give up after two years. And guess what? The big hits have been at it a lot longer than two years. How many businesses or brands do you know of that were profitable in the first two years?

    When I started, I had a five year plan. So I knew that I would outlast those two-year wonders. And I’ve decided that if I’m not where I want to be in five years (well, three years now,) I will extend that plan out to a ten-year plan. A lot of the more successful midlist authors seem to have been around for about eight…

    And I’m enjoying myself, so why give up?

    • #59 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:14 pm

      I can totally understand throwing in the towel after two years being a trend in our world. I did a lot of soul-searching during that time.

      But, you totally nailed it by mentioning businesses/brands and more successful authors. None of them were overnight sensations. If they were (and I would like to see that tiny list), it was damn lucky.

  27. #60 by Nichole McGhie on January 25, 2016 - 6:30 pm

    Great post! Thanks for the encouragement. It still seems like a huge elephant to eat.

    • #61 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:15 pm

      You bet! How about we just ride the huge elephant instead?😉

  28. #62 by brnjen12 on January 25, 2016 - 6:51 pm

    Reblogged this on Jeannie Hall Suspense and commented:
    The savvy (and patient) author’s guide to success…

  29. #63 by Rick Amitin on January 25, 2016 - 8:00 pm

    I write to see the light turn on in other people’s eyes. I am just as excited to build a Brand because it creates more opportunities for writing in multi formats. I write because it is in me and I build a Brand so that it doesn’t stay in me. I love hearing how other people are being creative and resisting the temptation to let outside forces control their destiny.

    • #64 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:17 pm

      Wowza…beautifully said, Rick! Thinking of marketing and branding ourselves with that kind of attitude is the way to go. It can actually be very fun!

      And, if those efforts mean sharing our creativity with more people, then we’re doing something right.

  30. #65 by Tamara LeBlanc on January 25, 2016 - 9:16 pm

    Sooooo awesome! I love the way Lovely Lamb recognizes talent and shares it with her peeps! Wonderful post, Britt. Your wisdom is as appreciated as The WANA wizard’s is!
    Will follow immediately after commenting🙂
    Have a great evening,
    Tamara

    • #66 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:18 pm

      You’re sooooooooo awesome, Tamara! You’re especially awesome for calling Kristen “Lovely Lamb.”🙂

      Thanks so much for your kind words!

  31. #67 by myeagermind on January 26, 2016 - 12:25 am

  32. #68 by Vanessa Fowler on January 26, 2016 - 12:26 am

    Useful reality check. Thanks.

    • #69 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:20 pm

      Sure thing! Always ready and willing with a reality check.😉

  33. #70 by eden baylee on January 26, 2016 - 1:01 am

    Excellent post Britt, though I would have expected nothing less from you!

    eden

    • #71 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:21 pm

      Thank you, dear Eden. You’re one of my favorites…you know that!

  34. #72 by conniecockrell on January 26, 2016 - 1:30 am

    Thank you, Britt. A good wake up call.

    connie

    On Mon, Jan 25, 2016 at 9:08 AM, Kristen Lambs Blog wrote:

    > Author Kristen Lamb posted: ” Today, we’re going to do something a little > different. You want to know one thing I love probably more than anything in > the world? Spotting great talent and getting to share it. Thus, today I > would like to introduce you to one of my followers who snag” >

  35. #74 by Anne on January 26, 2016 - 2:15 am

    Thanks for this great post. I know that impulse that makes us crave instant fame, that viral post that will make us a household name. Sigh.
    But what I have learned in my 5 + years of drawing my cartoons and putting them out there, is that slow and steady seems to work for me. While my book sales don’t (and may never) support me, the readers I have gathered along the way are fiercely loyal and if I was ever surrounded by a large number of baby pandas and could not escape, they would wade in and…um…well, we would all hang out and play with the hordes of baby pandas. Hey! You go with what works.
    Thank you again for confirming what I instinctively know: you can’t force success. You have to build it the old fashioned way.

    • #75 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:24 pm

      You had me at baby pandas! To hell with writing…I want to cuddle with the pandas.😉

      Sounds like you are in an awesome place, Anne. We should always remember gratitude, the wonderful supporters and connections we are lucky to have in our lives. That trumps the limelight any day for me.

  36. #76 by Kate Johnston on January 26, 2016 - 6:17 am

    So great to see you over here, Britt. I knew you’d write a wonderful article that inspires and motivates us all! Kristen is a gem for giving you this opportunity too! As a fellow introvert, the idea of marketing (selling) myself makes me gag. I definitely covet the romanticized idea of writing in solitude in my little study and mailing my pages to some guy I never see who then handles all the publicity! But I know I have to try harder — and your post showed me I need to step up my game.

    • #77 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:28 pm

      Kate love! Fancy seeing you here!

      Kristen is always a gem, and I’m still starstruck to be commenting on her wonderful blog. Writing is an introverted thing, so we (myself absolutely included) would LOVE to sit in that little study and dream.

      But, we need to step up our game if we want to share our dreams with others. Because everyone’s dreaming about other things, so they aren’t going to stumble upon ours by chance.

  37. #78 by ellieholmesauthor on January 26, 2016 - 8:46 am

    Great post, Britt. It’s so important to have a reality check on the business side of writing and realise that you need a different set of skills or at least a change of focus for the marketing side of being a writer as opposed to the creating fresh material side.
    Thanks also to Kristen for being such a positive role model – I called you one of the candles in the dark to light my way through my first year in self publishing when I blogged recently. Your blogs had an uncanny knack of arriving in my inbox just when I needed them the most!!

    • #79 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:54 pm

      Thanks, Ellie! That reality check has actually helped me continue with my indie author career, because I realized I needed to take a step back, get out of my overly imaginative writer head, and embrace a little marketing.

      Kristen’s the cat’s pajamas.🙂

  38. #80 by Author Mandy White on January 26, 2016 - 9:42 am

    Reblogged this on Mandy White.

  39. #81 by danniehill on January 26, 2016 - 11:35 am

    Kristen knows how to pick a winner– just look at what she’s done for other writers. I’ve known Britt, through her writing and great attitude, for several years now. She is a talent to watch and read. Ms Skrabanek has inspired me on many occasions and to be honest made me think about better things.

    • #82 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:55 pm

      Kristen does so much for us eager beaver writers!

      Thank you, Dannie. It’s been a privilege knowing you for so long.

  40. #83 by ellenchauvet on January 26, 2016 - 2:24 pm

    Reblogged this on Erotic Vampire.

  41. #84 by kdrose1 on January 26, 2016 - 2:44 pm

    Yeah….here’s the kind of stuff I write. Maybe my brain just doesn’t work like enough others to build a hemisphere of readers. Not to mention its really hard for me to write the way I write (el sob I know please don’t let Kristen kick me in the ass)- I just mean its like excavating and spelunking my mind at the same time and trying for coherence. Picture Pollok making a picture from his err pictures. http://kurtbrindley.com/2015/07/31/i-have-no-voice-and-i-must-write-a-guest-post-by-author-k-d-rose/ Note to self: Beer. I need to write beer.

    • #85 by Britt Skrabanek on January 26, 2016 - 11:57 pm

      Beer. I enjoy writing with a beer in my hand. That’s all I know!🙂

  42. #86 by Andrea Stephenson on January 26, 2016 - 3:08 pm

    Great advice Britt, you make me want to get out there and start marketing myself!!!

    • #87 by Britt Skrabanek on January 28, 2016 - 1:25 pm

      Andrea, you do a great job already with your blog. Your readers are always super engaged with your beautiful words. When your book comes out, I know I’ll be making a beeline for it.😉

  43. #89 by Ruth Ann Nordin on January 26, 2016 - 3:16 pm

    Excellent post. It takes hard work, patience, and dedication. There are no shortcuts. 🙂 Thanks for telling it like it is!

  44. #91 by Jilanne Hoffmann on January 26, 2016 - 4:06 pm

    I love you, Britt, keepin’ it real. Yes. I am one of those folks, slogging forward (with the occasional hop, skip or jump) every day. Thanks for the nudge-nudge and reminder!

    • #92 by Britt Skrabanek on January 27, 2016 - 12:01 am

      I love you, Jilanne! Also, I adore you for using the word “slogging.”

  45. #93 by victoriadougherty on January 26, 2016 - 4:24 pm

    Great post, Britt – couldn’t agree more! There’s an illustration called Success or What Success Really Looks Like – can’t remember the exact title – and it’s of an arrow that’s a giant scribble until the head of the arrow comes out the other end. Make sense? Point is, success is not a straight line, right?

    • #94 by Britt Skrabanek on January 27, 2016 - 12:08 am

      Hey, Victoria! I had to look it up just now for a refresher, but yeah…TOTALLY! I had a coworker/superior who doesn’t work with me anymore and we’ve become close friends. Anyway, during my first few months at this job, I burst into tears while she was trying to train me on this marketing technology stuff that was making my brain hurt. I was so frustrated and impatient, and I felt a lot like that arrow twisted every which way.

      She used the perfect analogy, asking me to remember back when I first learned to dance—how hard I had to work, how perfectionism was impossible, and how I was always learning new moves. I still think about that whenever I get too hard on myself.

  46. #95 by Virginia Soler on January 27, 2016 - 6:47 am

    Margaret,thanks for the heads up! When I asked if he had a military email address and reminded him that I am retired Air force and clarified army rank he got defensive but continued to try to convince me that we were in love. I knew something was wrong in the beginning but I wasn’t sure. He called me on the phone he had a tiny tiny voice with a strong Arab/african Dialect, I thought he sounded like a little person. In his picture he look african American and Arab and was 6’2 and 250. he stated that his wife died from breast cancer and his nanny took his daughter to Ghana ( My ex is from Ghana) I new a lot about the country. I asked did he have any family members in the States, he said he lost both parents in a car accident and the uncle that raised him died in 2001. that’s what prompt me to check him out was that is too much death!! I found your site by typing in his yahoo address. thanks for look out

  47. #96 by Peter Wells aka Countingducks on January 27, 2016 - 7:54 am

    I genuinely enjoyed reading that. I have a blog with the proverbial 5000 followers, and I do get nice comments on my post, or not in the numbers that you do, but they certainly don’t go on to buy either of my books, and that is a problem I have not solved in over two years. I am published by PDMI

    • #97 by Britt Skrabanek on January 27, 2016 - 10:13 am

      Hey, Peter! It’s tough out there, I know. Your blog audience will consist of all kinds of people—those who only read your blog, those who rarely read your blog but DO read your books, those who read both your blog AND your books, and those lovely people who follow your blog and never read anything.

      It’s good to continue making connections that will get you in front of new audiences, especially those people who would be more likely to read one of your books. I’m constantly shocked by the amount of people I know personally that don’t read books at all anymore. Unfortunately, that is another battle we have to face.

      • #98 by Peter Wells aka Countingducks on January 27, 2016 - 10:18 am

        I agree with you, and thank you for replying. I have relatives and friends who say, “I really must read you book, but I’ve been so busy…. eating this chocolate bar, looking out of the window” or any other reason which springs to mind. A blog post, mine at least, is only about 600 words and can be read while eating a sandwich whilst a book demands a much larger commitment, and if you have no reputation it is hard to get that support. I have had readers, but not hundreds of them boo hoo🙂

        • #99 by Britt Skrabanek on January 28, 2016 - 1:32 pm

          Haha! Great reading excuses, Peter! Nobody in my family has read my books, including my mom who is a notorious bookworm.

          She told me she got part of the way through one and said it was too weird. Not the story, but just that I wrote it. So I freaked her out.🙂

  48. #100 by bethtreadwayauthor on January 27, 2016 - 3:56 pm

    FINALLY, a music video that makes me happy I spent that part of the 90s deployed to the Gulf. Ha!

    Here’s to all of us who refuse to quit. No way, no how.

  49. #102 by bethtreadwayauthor on January 27, 2016 - 3:57 pm

    Reblogged this on Beth Treadway and commented:
    Never give up!

  50. #103 by Susan Smith on January 28, 2016 - 1:53 pm

    Nothing great comes without first the hustle.

    • #104 by Britt Skrabanek on February 3, 2016 - 10:33 am

      Indeed. “The Hustle” should be every writer’s theme song.🙂

  51. #105 by Morgan Hazelwood on January 28, 2016 - 4:25 pm

    I try for perseverance. And got myself gold stars to go on my calendar for my effort. Great post!

    • #106 by Britt Skrabanek on February 3, 2016 - 10:34 am

      I’m a big fan of gold stars myself. Great to meet a fellow star enthusiast!

  52. #107 by Ravi Bedi on January 28, 2016 - 11:05 pm

    Very interesting.
    When did the first writer become a salesman? Writers wrote stories and publishers handled everything thereafter (read sales and promotions). In modern times, you have to be a salesman first. Otherwise your talent will be wasted.
    My first book (“Lovers’ Rock” – a romantic thriller) was published by a reputed publisher (Rupa Books, India), but the damn thing didn’t sell despite excellent reviews on Amazon/Flipkart. The reasons are simple:

    1. I don’t have a pretty face. You may not believe, but it helps a great deal…at least in my part of the world.
    2. I don’t have the right connections to show any presence in the media.
    3. I didn’t learn the tricks of the trade from door-to-door salesmen, selling detergents and condoms.

    But I did write a great story liked by every single reader who happened to get hold of a copy.
    And then I wrote five more engaging stories promptly rejected by my publisher (They did NOTHING to promote my book…I didn’t even know when they launched it…perhaps on a day the first consignment left their warehouse). Why should they bet on a losing horse anyway?

    I invested in some of the’ best-sellers’ in India to learn a thing or two. What I learned is even crap sells in great numbers if marketed well, the contents be damned.
    I’m waiting to buy the unsold copies. I’ll gladly distribute them to readers for free during the next Jaipur Litfest. That’s the only way to reach readers.
    Last advice: If you are not a good salesman, forget about writing. Go tracking into the hills. It would be more rewarding.
    Cheers.

    • #108 by Britt Skrabanek on February 3, 2016 - 10:37 am

      It’s a tough world out there, Ravi. Sounds like you’ve been through a lot more than I have as I have only done the self-publishing thing so far.

      That’s why I always come back to “doing it for the love.” Any time I stray from that idea, my writing doesn’t bring me joy anymore. That’s just what works for me. Good luck!

      • #109 by Ravi Bedi on February 4, 2016 - 9:24 am

        After my first book (read damn good book) failed to pick up, my publisher rejected all my further submissions, one after the the other, probably without reading the damn things. Seeing my sales figures on Amazon, others probably did the same. Why bet on a losing horse.
        Now I’ve decided to self publish.
        Watch out for my next:
        1. Mail Order Bride
        2. Perfect Imperfect
        3. The Roots
        4. Wedding Invitation
        5. Seven Stories
        and then some more.
        I’m not giving up in a hurry.
        Cheers, and keep writing.

  53. #110 by aurorajeanalexander on January 31, 2016 - 3:24 pm

    Reblogged this on Writer's Treasure Chest and commented:
    This is another fantastic blog post by Kristen Lamb which helps us writers with our marketing, our author brand and our social media. I admire her for sharing her knowledge with us.

  54. #111 by taks1960 on January 31, 2016 - 6:58 pm

    Reblogged this on Toni Kennedy : A Writing Life.

  55. #112 by theowllady on January 31, 2016 - 9:37 pm

    Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.

  56. #113 by jstgeorge1 on February 2, 2016 - 9:56 pm

    Really enjoyed your post, Britt. Thanks Kristen!

  57. #115 by Browsing the Atlas on February 3, 2016 - 3:42 pm

    Wise words here, Britt. As someone who’s done more freelance writing than novel-writing, I find it absolutely essential to be able to sell your writing. Even Stephen King had to start off marketing himself. He made copies of his stories and sold them individually to anyone who’d buy them.

    • #116 by Britt Skrabanek on February 18, 2016 - 10:03 am

      Delayed response on my part, Juliann darling, but great to see you over here at Kristen’s! We have to bite the bullet and sell in some way. I just started managing a few freelancers at my job and it’s good for me to see how they operate.

      Stephen King…such a stud.😉

  58. #117 by Minuscule Moments on February 10, 2016 - 1:36 am

    Thanks Britt I can see where perserverance could be the key to this writing gig and a dab of bravado for the promotional side. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • #118 by Britt Skrabanek on February 18, 2016 - 10:04 am

      Dab of bravado…love that! Sounds like a potential title for something! Thanks for coming over to Kristen’s, sweet Kath.

  1. Why Writing Isn’t Enough | Laurie Boris
  2. There’s Some Savvy to This Writing Thing | Britt Skrabanek
  3. Top Picks Thursday 01-28-2015 | The Author Chronicles
  4. Why Writing Isn’t Enough—The Savvy Writer’s Guide to Success | Ravi Bedi
  5. The Biggest Roadblocks to Finishing Your Novel + Some Useful Links | Flynn Gray
  6. 5 Ways to Avoid Publishing Rejection by Being Human – Britt Skrabanek

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