Posts Tagged publishing success

The Doctrine of the Doers—5 Principles of Achievement

Same can be said about writing a book...

Same can be said about writing a book…

Success has a LOT of common denominators. Whether we want to be an excellent parent, run a thriving business, earn a promotion, have great friendships, become published, lose weight, one day have enough money to build a secret lab in the side of a mountain…? There are fundamentals we are wise to understand and apply.

Thus today, we are going to talk about 5 Principles of Achievement or The Doctrine of the Doers because I dig alliteration :D .

Principle #1—Understand What We are Doing is HARD

Pros make stuff look easy. I can listen to Donald Trump ten minutes and believe I, too, could be a financial genius. When I was four, I recall being allowed to watch Wonder Woman and she did these amazing handsprings. Well, pshaw! I totally could do that…or not.

And my cousin found me semi-conscious and confused why my arm was going the wrong way.

I made this mistake of not understanding I was seeing the END result of a lot of training. Outsiders make this mistake all the TIME. They see a thriving business or someone who drives a nice car and…that person must have “inherited money.”

When I was a teen, I was in marching band, the swim team and taught karate in the evenings. This meant I was up before dawn marching until 9 a.m. I then swam laps from 2 in the afternoon until 4:30 just in time to get home and pack up my gear so I could teach martial arts at the local recreation center.

One night, I was taking a break and a woman—holding a candy bar and a Pepsi—bemoaned how I was born so naturally fit. 

Really?

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Success is NOT natural. What’s natural? Entropy. Disorder. Chaos. Those who write a book, finish a book, have a thriving blog, a strong business, great kids, a clean house, a smoking hot body often worked hard for it. 

We must do what others are unwilling to do. We are not the AVERAGE. Even those of you who are just starting out. You are NOT the average. Most people never try.

We must always guard ourselves from thinking someone “better” than us achieved whatever easily. If we don’t, we will get discouraged and are more likely to give up. The other side of that is if we DO the hard work? Expect someone to believe whatever we achieved was purchased, inherited or the result of “magic.”

Principle #2—No Company Better Than Bad Company

Lions don’t hang with sheep. Show me your three closest friends and I’ll show you your future. Complaining, excuses, procrastination, laziness are contagious because they represent the natural order of the universe—ENTROPY. When I began as a writer, I had A LOT more “friends.” Now? Not so much.

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Even in martial arts, I don’t roll with people who are reckless and lazy. It’s a good way to get injured and it won’t make me better. I won’t spar with the guy who always shows up to class conveniently after the grueling warmup is over and who needs a water break every five seconds.

Choose people who are willing to do the hard stuff. If you’re a writer, hang out with people who WRITE, who are willing to read and take classes and are always pushing their skills to a higher level. Yes, there will be fewer of those, but it’s worth it.

Principle #3—Basics Trump Cleverness

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There are always people who want the shortcut. They want the Shake Weight Success and instead of being “successful” they look more like they are….ok, *leaves that to your imaginations*.

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From music to writing to business to parenting to marriage to martial arts, there are fundamentals we should master because they never outlive usefulness. From white belt to black belt, the Kimura is one of the most successful tactics in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu even though it’s one of the first we’re taught.

Writers? Proper grammar, punctuation and tight prose never go out of style. I see way too many new writers so busy trying to come up with a plot never written in HUMAN history and they do this at the expense of learning and mastering the essentials.

Principle #4—There Will Be BLOOD

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We live in a world that tells us we can have it all. NO. We can’t. That’s a lie designed to sell us stuff. We must choose and then focus and then sacrifice. Often, people see how much I write and think everything else is perfect in my life. Nope. I gave up the idea of having a Martha Stewart house a looooong time ago. Also haven’t had my hair done since last summer. I focus on family, writing and martial arts. Anything else? I’ll get to it.

*whimpers*

*whimpers*

Principle #5—Achievement is a PROCESS

It also never ends. We have to be careful we aren’t comparing the highlight reels of others to our own “behind-the-scenes.” When I started blogging, NO ONE cared except the man-part-enlargement bots. I was thrilled to pass 40 visits in a day.

I read a lot of other blogs to hone my skills and still do. And, even though it’s common for this blog to have triple digit comments and thousands of shares, I still read blogs with 27,000 or more shares and have to maintain perspective.

Whoever is getting those 27K shares didn’t get that Day One. Just like I blogged for over a year and a half before real humans started outnumbering the spammers who commented on my blog.

I so lick your blog. Wonderful poinsettias you make. I must tell my brother about you’re genius. What web browser do you use? Is there a grate spam filter?

Apparently not “grate” enough…

Have any idea how HARD it was not to delete these comments in the beginning? Um, maybe the commenter is writing English as a second language?

THIS is how blonde I was when I decided to blog. I started my WordPress site and posted…and immediately got MY FIRST COMMENT. Proof I was awesome! *does bad Cabbage Patch dance* It was a lovely and thoughtful comment from this dude named…Akismet?

What kind of name is that? Must be foreign.

Or an automatically generated message from the WORDPRESS SPAM-FILTERING software *head desk*.

What if I’d given up? We all start somewhere. Goals will always be shifting and evolving. We never cross a true finish line unless we decide to quit.

And we’ll need to remember to take that moment where we can enjoy our achievement, but new level? New devil. I was so STOKED when I earned my second stripe on my BJJ white belt. I felt bad@$$! Those two stripes cost me a broken nose, a few broken toes, sprains, strains, time and sweat. I was EPIC (in my own mind).

Double-rainbow all the WAY!

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***For those who don’t know, in BJJ you are a white belt FOREVER—okay, about a year to a year and a half. Four stripes and then blue belt. Most people QUIT.

I basked in my awesomeness until the next class when I got my tail beaten like a drum.

With writing? Finishing a book is life-altering? Publishing it? Holding it in your hands? OMG! Then you get the scathing review from someone who loved the book, but gave you two stars because there were four typos in 70,000 words.

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Also, once that book is out? It’s back to the beginning with the next book and the next. We are always starting over and reaching higher than the last time. It’s why we need a solid relationship with being a beginner ;) .

You can DO this! I know you can. Just remember baby steps are steps and the most valuable stuff in life, money can’t buy.

What are your thoughts? Ready to rule the world? Do you get frustrated with people believing what you do is easy? Or people who want the fruits without the work? Maybe people who dismiss all the sacrifices you’ve made? Do you find you do better if you keep revisiting these basics? I do. If it can be overcomplicated? I AM your GIRL!

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. 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).

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

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Want to Be a “Success”? Learn to Be an Outlaster

Original image courtesy of flowcomm, via Flickr Commons

Original image courtesy of flowcomm, via Flickr Commons

Happy New Year! 2015 is now here and it is up to us what we will do with the time each of us is allotted. We all have heard the saying, “DaVinci had the same 7 days and 24 hours.” I would actually make a different point. Folks like DaVinci, Mozart, Shakespeare actually had LESS time.

There was no electric lighting and pulling all-nighters was a good way to go blind by candlelight. Thus, I’d say the difference is that these artists lived intentionally.

We all want to know the secret to “success.” First of all, I am going to add a caveat. “Success” is a very personal thing. What is “success” for you isn’t “success” for me. Yet, study after study shows that people who write down their goals are far more likely to reach them.

Why?

We have forced our minds to have a Mission Statement and our subconscious will use that to guide us. That is where the cool dreams and great ideas are born. Also, we are far more likely to recognize opportunity when we see it.

Living intentionally is vital because it allows us what I believe is one of the HUGE keys to reaching our dreams—learning to be an OUTLASTER.

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creatinve Commons, courtesy of Ali Samieivafa.

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creatinve Commons, courtesy of Ali Samieivafa.

***I learned this term from minister and speaker Craig Groeschel and it has REALLY helped me.

We can take craft classes, join a gym, type on the WIP, start a blog, but the difference between those who make it and those who don’t is that those who make it KEPT GOING, even if it was just a tiny bit of effort daily.

Business

Actual image of Kristen's Guardian Angel

Actual image of Kristen’s Guardian Angel

I began W.A.N.A. International almost three years ago, and the business setbacks alone have been crushing. It is no easy feat to reinvent publishing and writing classes and conferences as we know them. W.A.N.A. was the first to have a GENUINE global writing conference (with a HUGE thanks to Tech Surgeons and Jay Donovan). We had real classes with NYTBSAs, agents, editors and attendees from all over the globe.

***W.A.N.A. stands for We Are Not Alone, btw.

And, though we enjoyed success, it came with a heavy price. It was one kick in the teeth after another. We were working with brand new technology, trying to schedule a conference that would accommodate everyone from New York to New Zealand. We also had legal battles, turnover, betrayals, LOCUSTS!

THANK GOD I had the great W.A.N.A. instructors by my side simply because they believed in what we are doing.  And we are STILL HERE!

Blogging & Writing

When I started blogging, I was THRILLED to have 40 visits a day. Granted, most were spam bots, but hey! They counted, RIGHT? One of my close writing friends and I were talking about how many people used to blog regularly 5 years ago and almost all of them are no longer blogging.

Blogging is crucial for a brand and selling books. It is the STRONGEST and most resilient form of social media, yet most people give up.

I also have noticed how many people were SO passionate about writing, would do ANYTHING to publish and write full-time. Now? Most are gone. New people filled with the wonder and dreams have taken their place, but how long will they last?

***Refer to What Are the REAL Odds of Being a Successful Author?

Here’s the thing. Starting is easy (okay, “easier”). It is fresh and wonderful and emotional. Starting is CRUCIAL. There might even be all kinds of people to cheer you on.

But how will you fare when the new wears off and those who pledged undying support and loyalty move on to a new shiny because we weren’t an overnight success?

The key to making it in ANYTHING from writing to business to marriage to losing weight is to become an OUTLASTER.

Traits of an Outlaster

Original image via Lucy Downey from Flickr Creative Commons

Original image via Lucy Downey from Flickr Creative Commons

Outlasters have clear and achievable goals.

Notice I didn’t say realistic goals. Reach for the stars and we may hit the moon. BUT, my goal to be a NYTBSA is realistic because I am a writer. If I have a goal to become a high-fashion model? Um, at a fluffy 5’3″ and 40 years old? Uh…NO.

Outlasters write down goals and have CLEAR Mission Statements.

The Mission Statement keeps us focused. We learn where to say yes and where and when to say no.

If my goal is to become a NYTBSA in the next five years, I know it is unwise to volunteer for every church event, school event, and family drama need. It becomes clear that I need to set word count based off MY goals. My word count will be very different if I want to write ONE book a year versus THREE.

Three sayings I kept with me from my days in sales?

Plan your work and work your plan.

Fail to plan and plan to fail.

Coffee is for Closers.

Outlasters understand the power of letting go.

Yes, Outlasters MUST hold on, hold on for LIFE! But to the right things.

Often letting go is more important than holding fast. This can involve letting go of hobbies, hangups and habits or even WIPs that just need to be put to bed. But the toughest? Letting go of people.

The best analogy I can think of for this is climbing Everest. If we want to climb Everest, there are teams of sherpas that guide you to the first base camp. As you go to each higher level, the team gets smaller and this is necessary.

Not everyone in our life is meant for the summit. Some could even get us killed.

I’ve had some SERIOUS issues with this. A writer I spent many years mentoring was caught on-line wholesale plagiarizing, and giving ME credit for his WONDERFUL work. This was a HARD blow to my brand and thank goodness kind people sided with me and realized HIS inexcusable behavior didn’t reflect MY character.

But, my brand was far smaller at the time. What if this happened later, when the damage could have been catastrophic? Sometimes the only thing we can be grateful for amidst the pain is TIMING.

We will mourn people we need to let go of, but often this is a good thing. We WANT the friends who believe in us even when all outside evidence says we are a failure. We never know who our real friends are when life is all kittens and unicorns. We find them (and they reach for us) in the darkness.

Outlasters Know NOTHING is WASTED

2014 was a HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE year. I had to back off everything because we had so many family members die or become critically ill. Right after this past Thanksgiving, both my grandparents (who raised me) were sent to the ICU on the same day. I just got off the phone from that news and received a call five minutes later that my aunt died. This was also after four months of debilitating Shingles.

I’ve done my share of grieving, of feeling badly about what I needed to do, should do, and beating myself up. But that isn’t productive. This past year, I’ve not been the Kristen Lighting the World on Fire and yet? Most of you stayed. New people joined.

This taught me that I not only could be the light for YOU, but that y’all could also be the light for ME.

I learned the value of rest. I backed off and slept (A LOT) to remove myself from the fray and really see where my priorities needed to be. Sometimes we get so caught in the artillery fire of life that we lose our bearings.

But that lost job or lost friend? That sickness or setback might just be a gift in hiding. We choose. What can this terrible event or mistake TEACH us?

Failures can be tombstones of stepping stones. Our choice.

Outlasters WORK 

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Luck is fabulous and would LUV me some luck. But I still believe the harder I work, the luckier I get. This said, working smarter is key. Sure, feel free to handmade all your clothes, but running to Target for new t-shirts might be a better use of time if your goal is to be a pro writer instead of a clothing designer.

There are no shortcuts. We MUST endure. And endurance can be small. It can mean we are so ill we can’t see straight, but we post a couple things on Facebook or ask a friend to guest blog…then go back to sleep. It is the small deposits and investments that accumulate over time.

But we write that book, remove that debt, lose that weight little by little. That’s what endures. Fad diets and quick fixes don’t change our character. Just like eating well and exercise should be a lifestyle, being a writer is a WHOLE new way of living. It isn’t a hobby or a thing or our little fun…it is who we ARE. Writers WRITE.

Outlasters Understand the Long-Tail

If we look at life day by day we will get discouraged. It’s kind of like going back to the gym and then getting on the scale every hour to see what’s changed. Formula for a breakdown. Outlasters just keep writing, keep failing, keep learning, keep trying and they do it over and over and over and over.

Outlasters CANNOT Succeed Alone

Part of why I created the W.A.N.A. Community is that we are who we hang around. Show me your closest friends and I’ll show you your future. We need a team, especially in The Digital Age. There is simply too much to learn or know.

Too many predators who see dollar signs over the newbie writer’s head. Conversely, there are a LOT of great people in the industry and your connections can save you time and guide you.

Find positive, professional, driven people and you WILL come up higher. Psychic vampires, whiners and complainers need to GO. Take inventory and seek out those you admire. Study them. Listen and learn from them. This is a tough road, but no one ever said we had to do it alone.

We all fall, bump our noses and bloody our knees. That is GOOD. Keep pressing. You got this ;) .

So what are your plans for the New Year? Are you working on valuing baby steps? Reframing setbacks? Letting go of bad habits or toxic people? Any tips you might want to offer?

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, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

I will announce December’s winner later in the week when I have had some SLEEP.

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

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Irrefutable Law of Success #3—We Learn By Doing

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Gabriel Amadeus

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Gabriel Amadeus

Theory is great, but it may or may not jive with reality. My goal as a blogger, author, teacher is to equip you guys for success from all angles—craft, brand/platform, and business. Yet, want to know what all these have in common?

We have to DO them to get better.

We can read all the craft books in the world, but we only grow as writers by writing. We improve on Facebook or Twitter with practice. As authors, we are corporations of ONE. We need to make business decisions. The more decisions we make, the more we grow.

One of the biggest business decisions we’ll make is which publishing path to take. This is why I dedicate a lot of time to educate you guys about how all forms of publishing work in my new book. We have to choose a path that fits our personality, our lives, how much time we have, and any operational constraints (four kids, day job, genre, budget, fear of clowns).

Writing can feel a little like THIS...

Writing can feel a little like THIS…

Sometimes our plans can have the best of intentions, but we don’t know what’s going to work until we try. For instance, my first books were published indie and I’d hoped this would translate into a traditional deal. I wanted to experience all forms of publishing so I could connect better with my readers.

After two years of a proposal going nowhere in NYC? Time to change plans. Thing is, I didn’t know it wouldn’t work until I TRIED.

Some Things Can ONLY Be Learned By DOING

As an author and business owner, I can tell you that hindsight REALLY IS 20/20. I look back at dumb moves, missteps, mistakes and go, “Yeah, that was stupid.” Yet, here’s the thing, it seemed like a good idea at the TIME.

Any of you who’ve ever DATED know the feeling.

We learn by DOING. We can’t learn to ride a bike reading Internet articles. We have to hop on and expect a lot of skinned knees and elbows.

Blogging is one of the best (and most stable) forms of social media. Yet, we only get good at it by doing it. Yes, readers love this blog (and I SO THANK YOU for that), but I’ve written over 700 blogs. My first blogs?

*insert crickets chirping*

I remember not wanting to delete spammers, because it meant I’d have NO comments.

This is the best infermentation ever. You are change my mind. What is your browser? You are brilliant person! My brother recommended me here. Your site has great spam filter.

He could just be foreign, right?

As I mentioned yesterday, plan your work, then work your plan. Plans are only good if we are using them. By using them, we see the flaws, the stuff that doesn’t work and then we can CHANGE direction. That author (I mentioned Monday) who was sniveling about spending a bazillion hours on social media and his book wasn’t selling?

CHANGE THE PLAN, DUDE!

All of us start with great ideas and intentions. That’s the prototype. Yet, once we build the prototype, we need to try and wreck it. Some flaws only come to the surface when rubber meets the road.

Do Stuff that Makes Sense—CONTEXT

All righty, we’ve talked about making a plan and testing a plan, but let’s start with not making a STUPID plan. I can’t count the number of times that social media, PR and marketing experts have cited examples of success that are OVER TEN YEARS OLD. If something was successful ten years ago? Likely NOT a good plan in a completely different paradigm.

Recently I had a conversation with an Old School PR person (A BIG PR person). I was trying to impress the importance of an author blog. Actual conversation:

Expert:  Well, sure a blog is great. It worked for Julia & Julia. Blog a topic and get a book deal.

Me:  Blogging a topic will pigeonhole a modern author and burn them out. Blogs need to be more dynamic. The Julia & Julia example is outdated.

Expert:  What do you mean outdated?

Me:  Okay, the blogger had to start the blog. Then she had to blog for well over a year to capture enough interest for a book deal. So that’s another year to two years to write the book and get it to market. Then the book needed time to take off in order to be optioned by Hollywood and, last I checked, films take time to make. Another year to two years to turn the book into a script, cast and then produce the film. And aside from all of that, it’s already a four year old film. The example isn’t relevant because it’s easily eight years old. Modern audiences have been spoiled by Reality TV and want to connect emotionally as people. They want to talk about cats and zombies and laundry with their favorite authors.

Expert: Yeah *laugh* I don’t see how blogging about cats is going to get you very far.

Me: Haz Cheezburger just sold for a couple million dollars and it’s simply cat memes. Also, Jenny Lawson not only hit the New York Times best-seller list, her readers crashed Goodreads when she tried to do a Meet the Author. She blogs about cats, zombies and her fetish for taxidermy.

Expert: Jenny Who?

After the conversation, we were on the same page and the expert was awesome and generous and grateful for the help, but this illustrates a point. When people (experts) cite what worked for The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood? Use critical thinking skills. Remember that success happened in THE 1990s.

Yes, Rebecca Wells traveled to the indie bookstores and created relationships and did readings, etc. but this was before Borders and Barnes & Noble all but wiped out independent bookstores. Granted, Borders is dead and buried and B&N is hemorrhaging. This means the small bookstore is making a comeback…but it still isn’t the influencer it was in the early 90s (but feel free to pounce if it makes sense for your book). 

Remember, in the 1990s most people couldn’t afford computers, the Internet was in its infancy, and the bookstore was the main point of discovery. That’s no longer the case. When we make any plan, yes look to other successes for ideas. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Yet, at the same time, be smart. Your time is valuable.

This is why it is incumbent upon us to be knowledgeable. What is the market climate? Who are our readers? What do they want? Where are they congregating? Is my plan relevant or am I trying to recreate ten or even twenty-year-old magic?

Then try it. Put a foot in. If The Red Sea doesn’t part? Step…out (thank you, Joyce Meyers).

What are your thoughts? Have you been Wile E. Coyote and tried stuff that just went BOOM! Stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time? Do you look back at some of the people you dated and ask, “Was I on DRUGS? How did I EVER think that was a good idea?”

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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Authors of the Digital Age–What It Takes to Be a Real Author CEO

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Were you doing something? I’m bored. Can I help? I’m hungry.

I do a lot of reading of other blogs, particularly blogs that aren’t about writing. I think this keeps my information fresh. As many of you might know, financial blogger Steve Tobak is one of my favorites, and he regularly inspires my writing.

This past week he had a neat post What It Takes to Be a Real CEO, and there were so many of the principles that applied to being a Digital Age Author. We are now Author CEOs, no matter what path we take. So what does it take to be a REAL Author CEO?

Passion for Work

We must have a passion for writing and a willingness to work hard. To be blunt, being a professional writer is a lot of HARD work. Writers are CEO of a company of one, and many times our writing work is on top of a day job, family, children, and other responsibilities. Going pro isn’t all floating around on a unicorn cloud hanging out with the muse.

All professional authors have to read, learn the craft, make work count, finish the books, and be ruthless and relentless in our edits until the work is complete. We have to build a platform, promote, keep up with taxes, accounting, deductions, receipts, spending, write-offs, mailing lists, etc.

This means we need to get up earlier and stay up later than most people, and we will have to sacrifice a lot. This is why we need passion. Passion takes the sting out of sacrifice. While others are whining, we are working.

Relentless Pursuit of the Dream, Even When Others Think You’re Nuts

In the beginning, this is particularly important. No one will take you seriously. Accept it and sally forth. Brush the dust from your feet.

Others want us to fail, because if we succeed, then we are proof success is a choice. Others will resent us because they want to believe they aren’t in control of their futures. They want to keep their victim mentality because it’s safe and absolves them of personal responsibility for their own futures.

Expect push-back.

Courage in the Face of Adversity

The new paradigm is changing and can be just as scary as the old one. Those who choose a traditional path know the odds of finding an agent and landing a publishing deal are not the best. Most writers who query will fail.

When it comes to a non-traditional path, we have to learn so many new things and wear frightening and unfamiliar hats. Again, the odds are better, but competition is staggering, discoverability is a growing nightmare, and the workload is daunting to even the best of us. But, we must have the courage to do what scares us if we want the dream.

Stickwithitness

There will be setbacks, and again, there is a lot of hard work ahead. When writers complain that all they want to do is write, I understand. I wish all I had to do is write books, too. Would be much easier. But that isn’t reality and we have a lot of other non-writing work that needs to be done every single day.

One foot in front of the other day after day. We must hold fast to the idea that days become weeks, weeks become months and months become years. We are what we do. Behaviors become habits, habits become character and character becomes destiny.

Willingness to Do Other Jobs that Aren’t Writing

The competition is steep. If we want to stand apart from the crowd, then we need to be willing to do what others won’t. We can’t have everything. This job involves sacrifice.

I’ve had one date night with my husband in a year and a half. Instead of a night on the town, we play XBox together for an hour each evening because it costs less time (I need) and money (we definitely need). I blog 5 days a week here, once a week for my city and once a week for SocialIn (29 major cities) all different content because I am sowing seeds for success.

I run a full-time family business, I tweet, I FB, I write books, teach, travel, speak, and write fiction as well. I give this job all I have, and it has a price. I work 14 hour days, 6 days a week, and I don’t get a lot of days off. I don’t watch a lot of television. I see a mall three times a year, and only when my shoes wear out so much they are no longer wearable. Don’t ask me about the laundry or my closets and yes, my Christmas tree is STILL up. Apparently after Valentines Day, Christmas Trees transform into Bogan Trees.

***Bogan is a word for “white trash” in Australia *waves to Cole Vassiliou* :D***

Stop standing there like a GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE and get me a BEER!

Stop standing there like a GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE and get me a BEER!

But all of it is worth it because I love my job and am willing to give up the extra stuff to do what I love.

Determinedness to Overcome Never-Ending Obstacles

New level, new devil. It will never get easier, only different. We grow in some areas, cheer 5 minutes then find ourselves tipped head-first again into alien territory. Goes with the job.

Last year, we had someone working for us who was very integral to our family business up and quit with no notice. We nearly lost the business and it cost months of doing double-duty and calling every favor I could to salvage and rebuild. I am better and stronger for it, and though it seriously sucked at the time, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Our job will always have obstacles, often BIGGER obstacles. Get used to it, expect it and train for it. It will toughen you for the next level.

The Ability to Make Smart High-Risk Decisions

As the paradigm shifts we have to be educated to make the best decision for our career. Yes, I am a fan of non-traditional publishing, but it fits what I write. I support all authors, no matter the path. I merely want it to be the path that’s best for YOU. Indies will all think traditional authors are taking a risk going with big publishing. Traditionals will generally feel indies are insane going it alone.

Again, it depends on preparation and the author. Publishing is now no longer a One Size Fits All Snuggie, but no path is a panacea, either. All decisions carry risk and we need to educate ourselves, be honest, and then DECIDE. Choose a path, then give it all you have.

What are your thoughts? Opinions? Experiences? What have you had to sacrifice to live the writing dream? Do you have friends and family who sabotage or give you a hard time? What kind of push-back have you been through? How did you triumph or are you still struggling?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of April, 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).

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 April I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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87 Comments

7 Things Confident Writers Don’t Do

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 7.55.29 AM

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:

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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 novelor 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!

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96 Comments

How Do We Handle Rejection and Keep on Pressing?

LOVE Tard. Seemed appropriate.

LOVE Tard. Seemed appropriate.

Rejection sucks. There is no other way of saying it. Of course, the clincher is that rejection is not only part of life, but it is a necessary ingredient to the life well-lived. But, how do we handle rejection in a way that is constructive? A lot of how we handle rejection stems from how we view rejection.

I have a saying: If we aren’t failing, then we aren’t doing anything interesting. Of course, there are those individuals out there who will never suffer from rejection, but they never try. These people never dare and never step out of the comfort zone. Thus, I suppose all of us face a choice daily—pain of rejection or pain of mediocrity.

Either way, there will be pain.

A Closer Look at Rejection

How many of you applied for a dream job? Went on a first date with someone you were CRAZY about? Entered that dream contest? Queried that mega-agent?

…only to fall flat on your face?

Okay, but how many of you:

Applied for a job that was beneath your skill level? Went on a dreadful date as a favor? Queried an agent you really didn’t want, but you promised yourself that you’d query at least 10 agents a month?

…only to get rejected.

O-U-C-H, right?

All of us have been rejected when we’ve reached for the stars, but then there is the time where we totally were going to reject the other party…and they beat us to the punch.

What? He didn’t feel a spark with ME? He doesn’t want to go out with ME again? He can’t dump me, I was going to dump HIM.

It’s bad enough getting dumped, but getting dumped by the guy who lives in his mother’s basement and who’s never had an actual job stings just a wee bit…ok, a lot more. And I know that it is ego and a tad of narcissism on our part, but that just goes with being human. We all feel the sting in our pride.

Statistics show that 10% of people won’t like us, no matter what we do.

All of us want to be well-liked, loved, accepted, but 1 out of 10 people probably think you were dropped on your head. Don’t feel bad, 1 out of 10 think that about me, too…because they were dropped on THEIR heads, LOL.

Kidding.

I subscribe to the Underwear Too Tight Theorem. Wearing ill-fitting undies is probably responsible for most road rage, violent crimes and likely a couple wars. Hey, you ever buy the wrong size bra and try to be pleasant? Just saying that, if someone doesn’t see how awesome you are, the odds are they should have chosen boxers over briefs.

Don’t argue, it’s science :D.

My first meme. Seemed appropriate for today.

My first meme. Go Grumpy Cat!

We Really Are All Winners

Look, you are special, unique, precious YOU, and yeah, I can guarantee that, when you try to do something amazing, odds are you’re going to fall and skin your ego more than a few times. Happened with rollerskating, learning to ride a bike and with querying an agent. The trick is perspective. Learn to back up and look at the big picture.

Closed Doors Can Be Some of the Best Gifts

Sure, we all have failures and setbacks, but I promise that some of the best gifts in life are closed doors, missed opportunities, or rejection.

In 2008, I went through the nastiest, most hellish breakup. There is being dumped, and then there is BEING-DUMPED-AND-WHILE-I’M-HERE-I-WILL-CRUSH-EVERY-GOOD-THING-YOU BELIEVE-ABOUT-YOURSELF-AND-RIP-YOUR-BEATING-HEART-OUT-OF-YOUR-CHEST-AND-SHOW-IT-TO-YOU. I’d never been through anything so cruel. My ego was so bruised I was seriously open to the idea of living out the rest of my days in a convent. A month later, I met my husband who is the love of my life and the most perfect man for ME. Thank GOD that jerk dumped me!

If I’d had instant success as a novelist, I would never have become the Social Media Jedi who gets to help you guys shine your brightest, and I wouldn’t trade that joy for a hundred NYTBS novels. When I started as a writer, I had no idea that, though I was a strong fiction writer, my real gift was in teaching, shaping and nurturing others. If I hadn’t been rejected on one path, I would never have found my true path.

Some Cool Stuff About Rejection

Cool stuff? Kristen, have you been licking frogs? There is nothing awesome about being rejected.

Um, no, I gave up licking frogs last New Year’s Day, and YES, rejection can be awesome.

Rejection Shows Us Where We Need to Grow

When engineers design a new car, they create a prototype. That prototype is then built and…tested. The place to find out of the brakes don’t work is NOT on 1-95 when a family of six is inside counting on being able to stop in a rainstorm.

There are plenty of people with the talent to take them to the stars, but they lack the character to stay there. All of us have rough spots, bad habits, or areas where our character or work ethic could come up higher. It is best to sort this stuff before The Big Game, when the stakes are so high that failure is catastrophic.

Rejection Can Show Us That We Are Doing Something Right

I happen to be one of those people who dances to the beat of her own ukelele. It’s hard to be different, but “fitting in” often comes at the expense of greatness. When we pursue our dreams, often we will meet resistance. In fact, I guarantee you will meet resistance. A lot of times it is because when we step out and dare, we remind others that mediocrity is a choice, not fate.

Also, people are generally afraid of change, so anything we do that is different or challenges the status quo can be viewed as a threat. It isn’t personal. It’s just human to be afraid of change.

Rejection Can Be a Sign of a Pending Promotion

One of my favorite jokes goes like this:

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Image courtesy of Sarah Madison WANA Commons

Scientists wanted to understand more about pessimism versus optimism. Was it nature? Nurture? Or both? They scoured the country looking for a set of identical twins, but one needed to be a pessimist and the other an optimist. Once the scientists found their set of twins, they separated the two and put them each alone in a room where they were chest-deep in manure. Then, they sat back and watched through a one-way mirror to see what would happen.

The pessimistic young man wailed an cursed and pouted. He moaned, It figures. This kind of stuff always happens to me. My brother always has it so much easier.

The scientist looked in on the optimistic twin and the young man was grinning ear to ear as he dug through the piles of manure. He laughed with glee as he flung large handfuls of the stinky stuff in the air, and then he’d dive in for more.

Baffled, the scientists had to know what the heck was going on. They peeked in the room and asked, What on earth are you so happy about? You are up to your chest in manure!

To which the twin replied, I know! Isn’t it great? With all this horse#$%&, there has GOT to be a pony in here somewhere!

Often it gets the darkest when we are actually doing the right thing. In fact, before every promotion, I know I’ve suffered the worst setbacks. Hey, a new level a new devil. Just count on it. Life is all about choices and success comes from how we interpret failure. Is it a tombstone or a stepping stone?

So, the next time it feels like life is using you for a punching bag, the next time you fail or face rejection, just think: With all this horse#$%@, there has GOT to be a pony in here somewhere!

Remember, we are WANAs. We are not alone. And when you get hit, lean on us…and play this song a few hundred times until you remember how amazing you are.

What’s your story? Have you ever been through a rejection so devastating you thought you’d DIE? What did you do? Did it turn out to be a blessing in disguise? Have you ever been just about to dump someone and they dumped YOU first? Have you ever failed, but that failure led you to something even BETTER?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of December, 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).

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 December 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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87 Comments

Unlocking Your Great Future—5 Keys to Writing Success

The gateway to your destiny lies within.
(Image courtesy of Maddelena on WANA Commons)

Happy Monday! Okay, since I have a LOT more responsibilities on my plate, I am, once again, working on brevity. *sounds of cheering* I love teaching you guys and talking to you, but there just are not enough hours in the day to accomplish all I want to do. Also, I have yet to locate a cloning machine. I know one exists, because someone is using said machine to clone dirty dishes and laundry in my house. I can only assume this is in an effort to cloak the location of the cloning device. This said, we are going to make another try at short and sweet!

….and there was much rejoicing.

Okay, you can stop cheering now.

Today, I want to talk about some fundamentals to writing success. We can have all the talent in the world, but without these five ingredients, we will be hard-pressed to ever reach our dreams.

Passion—This should be a, “Yeah, no duh,” but, sadly, it isn’t. I meet a lot of people who say they want to be a professional author, but the second they face any opposition or criticism they give up. Here is the thing, if we really LOVE it, we won’t give up.

One of my favorite stories is about a music master who traveled village to village in search of proteges to train. A young boy who played the violin practiced extra hard in anticipation of being chosen. On the given day, he played for the master and, at the end, the master said, “No, you don’t love music enough.” Heartbroken, the boy ran home.

A year later, the same master came to the village and spotted the boy. The master asked if he was going to audition. The boy crossed his arms and replied, “No. Your comment hurt me to the core. I put the violin away and haven’t touched it since.” To which the master replied, “I told you you didn’t love music enough.”

If we love writing, NOTHING can stop us. My motto in regards to writing comes from Hannibal:

Aut viam inveniam aut facial. 

I will either find a way or I will make one.

Self-Discipline—Again, writers write. One of the main reasons I am such a proponent of blogging is that it trains writers for a professional pace. It trains us to meet deadlines. Disciplined people work no matter what, and they finish what they start. Amateurs and the immature flit from thing to thing. Professionals and genuine artists dig in and complete the task.

Will all of us have this self-discipline in the beginning? No. Most of us don’t. Self-discipline is a muscle of character, and it needs to be trained and built just like biceps. Every time we stick to something when the siren’s song of a new shiny tempts us to start something new, we get stronger.

Humility—Great writers know they always have more to learn. Read, find mentors, and learn to admit shortcomings. None of us are perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Those who readily admit flaws and seek help and training? They stand far better chances of succeeding long-term.

I used to have a problem with deadlines and self-discipline. I had the attention span of a crack-addicted fruit bat. That was why I began blogging. I knew that those character flaws would always limit me. Even though it was embarrassing to admit I had some deep flaws, it would have been impossible to ever combat that weakness if I hadn’t mustered the courage and humility to recognize where I fell fatally short.

It is okay to be imperfect. It is okay to be new. It is okay to not know everything. When we are humble enough to admit we need help, that is the first step toward authentic growth and change.

Healthy Relationship with Failure—I have said this many times, If we aren’t failing, then we aren’t doing anything interesting. Expect failure. Better yet, embrace failure.

Image courtesy of David Farmer WANA Commons.

Scientists once tried to do a biome experiment where all the plants lived in a perfect world. There was the perfect amount of water, sunlight, and nutrients. Sealed beneath the benevolent dome, there were no droughts, no diseases, no thunderstorms, no high winds, and no floods.

They expected the trees in the bio dome to be much healthier and grow much taller than those poor trees exposed to the outside world. But, to their astonishment, the trees never grew very tall. In fact, they looked downright pathetic, whereas the trees in the hard, cruel outside world grew far taller, were more resistant to disease and were, overall, much healthier.

Baffled, the scientists investigated, and they discovered that, every time a tree faced drought, it dug its roots in deeper. When it experienced disease, it developed resistance. When wind broke off branches, the trees in the outside world were forced to channel more nutrients to reinforce the affected areas. This made them stronger…so they grew taller.

The sheltered trees had never been tested, thus they never had to become stronger. Sadly, they never grew to their full potential.

Failures=storms. Embrace the storms. They make you grow ;).

Yeah, I promised 5…but then I also promised to make it short. And I am tired and a writer, ergo bad at math.

What are some character traits that you might add? What do you struggle with? What area gives you the most trouble? What have you done to make it better? What is some advice you would like to share?

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. 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).

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 August I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

July’s Winner is Heather Wright. Please e-mail me your 5,000 word Word document to kristen at wana intl dot com. Or, if you choose, you can send your query letter or novel synopsis (no more than 1250 words). You have until August 30th to send me your submissions.

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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90 Comments

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