Wisdom for Aspiring Writers Part 2

by CJ McDaniel // January 13  
This guest post was written by Dave Chesson a book marketing nerd who shares his latest tips and tricks at Kindlepreneur.com.

Recently Adazing shared a series of tips to advise aspiring writers with a mixture of practical ideas and mentalities. I loved the ideas and was inspired to take them further.

After all, I’ve had the pleasure of contributing my ideas to the Adazing audience in the past. It’s my mission through Kindlepreneur and The Book Marketing Show to serve the author community.

Today, I’d like to share five ideas I feel will make a real difference to aspiring authors. Through my years of helping authors at various stages of their career I’ve noticed there are common issues that arise.

By taking these five ideas to heart, you can jumpstart your author success, and avoid years of learning lessons the hard way.

Let’s get to it!

Embrace Marketing

If you spend any time around the author community, you are sure to hear a common complaint.

“I hate marketing! Why can’t I just be left alone to write?”.

I totally get where my fellow authors are coming from.

Marketing doesn’t exactly come naturally to most of us. It can seem like a confusing can of worms that isn’t especially appealing to open up.

However, like it or not, marketing is a fact of life for modern authors.

Now, if you’re fortunate to have some success under your belt, you can outsource many of the author marketing aspects of your work, allowing you to focus on the creative work you truly love.

However, when you’re just starting out, or even further down the line if you’re frugal about self-publishing, you’re going to be carrying out a lot of the marketing yourself.

So what are some key ideas and practices to demystify author marketing?

  • First of all, a lot of authors think marketing is scammy or somehow impure. Frankly, I totally understand that. There are a lot of shady online marketers. However, if you think of marketing in terms of “introducing people to something new they will love” then it becomes a lot more appealing. Also, applying the ideas underpinning Seth Godin’s concept of permission marketing can ensure it is a truly win/win activity.
  • Many authors feel that marketing is out of their grasp due to the perceived difficulty in understanding what does and doesn’t work. I’m a firm believer that it’s better to master a single tactic than to dabble in many. Don’t worry about chasing each and every method out there. Instead, find one particular marketing approach that is bearing fruit for your fellow authors and take the time to delve deep and master it.
  • Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, you can market effectively for free. Paid options, such as Amazon Advertising, can be effective, but no-cost tactics such as book promotion sites are also a good choice.

I totally get that your passion is being an author and producing awesome books that readers love. No-one is saying you need to become the next Don Draper. However, a little bit of marketing icing sprinkled on top of your author cake will help to ensure that your work finds an appreciative audience.

3 Dimensional Mentoring

I truly feel that we often learn the most by serving others.

Before I switched my focus to writing books and serving the author community, I had the honor of serving in the US Military.

Often, while training the younger guys, I received new insight and clarity on concepts I had some knowledge about.

One great way to become a better author is to have a mentoring relationship that consists of three dimensions.

So what are these three dimensions, and how do they help you become a better author?

  • Have a mentor who is more experienced than you. By following in the footsteps of someone who has walked the path before you, a lot of time is saved. You avoid the errors that your experienced mentor made, and significantly reduce your learning curve as a result of their shared wisdom.
  • Have fellow authors who are at the same stage in their career as you are. This could take the form of a mastermind group, pairing up with an author buddy, or a group of fellow authors on Facebook. Sharing what is and isn’t working, not to mention providing mutual moral support, is a key part of improving as an author.
  • Mentor someone who is at a less advanced stage than you are. You might think that you are a true rookie and this isn’t possible. However, that’s almost never the case. Even if someone you know is thinking of writing a book but doesn’t know the first step to take, you have valuable ideas and experience to share with them. Teaching others what you’ve learned reinforces your own knowledge and helps to pay it forward.

The life of an author can sometimes be a little bit lonely. By ensuring you have your three dimensions of mentoring in place, you have a supportive, growth-focused environment to help you and your fellow authors move forward.

Consistency Is King

This idea might sound surprising. However, I firmly believe that the major barrier to success for most authors is simply losing momentum and commitment.

This is down to several reasons. Some people get frustrated at the lack of quick results and give up. Other times, people get ‘shiny object syndrome’ and instead of drilling deep and mastering something lose focus and move on to the ‘next big thing’.

So how do we commit to consistency as authors in order to achieve lasting excellence?

  • Take a long term view. This is not a quick way to make money, and neither should it be. If you are desperate for cash, drive an Uber or do some freelance writing work on Upwork. Building an author career is like planting seeds. Nothing will happen at first. You will have to take time to nurture the initial stages of your author efforts. However, if you are patient, your efforts will bear fruit for years to come.
  • Focus on a sustainable writing habit, rather than inconsistent bursts of work. If you write 500 words a day, each and every day, your annual word count will be over 180,000 words. This is far better than a frenzied burst of 5000 words once a month or so.
  • Plan ahead. By taking the time to sit down ahead of a writing project, break it down into stages, and make a series of small tasks, large projects become a lot more manageable. It’s a lot easier to be calm and consistent when you know exactly what is required of you and when.

I feel that a lot of potentially excellent authors are simply overwhelmed by the seeming size of the task. However, by making a commitment to consistency, you can walk a journey of a million miles a single step at a time.

Nothing Is Set In Stone

A lot of authors are held back by their desire to create something truly special straight away. Almost no author hits a home run at their first at bat.

Instead, it’s important to embrace the painful process of writing something not very good, learning from it, writing something slightly less awful, learning from that, writing something decent, improving it, and eventually writing something people will truly be happy to read.

There are no cheat codes. It’s like working out at the gym. It’s a process and one which takes time.

But this becomes a lot easier when you realize nothing is set in stone!

Companies pivot all the time. Musical groups change their style, image, and even their group name.

You have the same creative freedom as an author.

How exactly?

  • You can always rebrand. We live in an era where it’s possible to publish under multiple pen names. You can withdraw your work at the click of a mouse. Nothing is permanent so don’t be afraid to experiment and take risks.
  • We live in an era of incredible niche genres. For example, you might feel like you want to write some sci-fi. However, as you delve deep, you discover all the myriad possibilities, such as VR type books similar to Ready Player One. What an exciting time to be an author! A true abundance of possible genres exist.
  • It’s never been easier to make changes to almost any aspect of your author platform. We are liberated from the shackles of tradition, slow moving publishing companies. In this day and age, you can change your author logo, website theme, or social media style with a few steps of your smartphone. Enjoy this creative freedom and embrace it to the fullest.

Enjoy the liberation of the modern author context. It truly is an exciting time to be a creative.

Give To Get

It’s a sad indictment of the era in which we live, but too many people have the mentality of expecting something for nothing.

Perhaps you’ve seen this in the author groups you frequent. The type of people who will always demand an answer to their own questions, but are nowhere to be seen when it’s time to serve someone else.

It’s kind of a law of reality that the more you give, the more you get. By contributing to the success of others, you attract contributions to your own advancement.

So how are some of the ways you can give to get, and grow as an author as a result?

  • Be thoughtful when you comment on blog posts. I genuinely believe this is a massively overlooked opportunity for a lot of authors. If there is a writer you admire, take the time to write a thoughtful, engaging response to the majority of their blog posts. Chances are, they will take the time to respond back. You are now on their radar. When it’s time to promote your own work, you now have a powerful ally to call upon who is super familiar with you.
  • Sharing is caring! If you admire what a fellow author is doing, help get the word out. This could involve mentioning them in Facebook groups, tweeting about their latest work, or even giving word of mouth recommendations to those in your circle. By sharing the work of others, you stand a great chance of them subsequently sharing your own work, as per the law of reciprocity,
  • Be a kind soul to those in need. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need some astonishing level of expertise or experience to serve the author community. You can even help people through your social media platforms as an author. Simply being a supportive presence in the lives of others, and congratulating them on their achievements, is a more than worthwhile starting point.

The more you give, the more you will get in return. Plus, it just feels awesome to be a positive contributor to the community of your fellow authors. Couldn’t we all use a little more kindness in 2019?

Wisdom and Advice – Final Thoughts

I truly hope you find something in this article to help you grow as an author in the year ahead.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Please let me know your personal challenges as an aspiring author, and how you hope to address them in the year ahead.

Here’s to your success!

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!