10 Steps to Making Shit Happen (aka: The “I Don’t Know How” Guide)

For a long time I dreamed of seeing my book at #1 on Amazon; of more readers finding my books and transforming their lives, because the books is at #1 and actually has a chance at being shown to potential readers.

Problem was, I had no idea HOW I was going to make this happen. I didn’t know anyone who’d done it. And I had never done it before, so the steps were unknown to me.

So because I didn’t know HOW I was going to get my book to #1 on Amazon, I didn’t allow myself to want it. I just pretended that I didn’t care and that it didn’t really matter to me.

I even recall making fun of authors who called themselves “best selling authors” just from hitting #1 on Amazon. (And now I do it–ha!)

The point being, I did everything I could think of to downplay the fact that I really wanted to hit #1 on Amazon. Just because I didn’t know HOW to do it.

Thankfully this year, I finally accepted the lesson that was given to me over and over again for years… the HOW is NOT up to you.

What that means: HOW you do something isn’t what matters. It’s DOING SOMETHING that matters.

My Story

In February I came across an author who has published 47 eBooks–46 of which were best sellers on Amazon. It finally made me realize that if she could do it that many times, I could do it at least once.

Suddenly my fear of not knowing HOW I was going to do it shifted to a belief that I could do it.

At that point, the specifics of HOW didn’t really matter, because I was finally to a place where I not only wanted it, but I believed I could have it. It finally felt possible for me to be #1 on Amazon.

So I started writing in my journal every day that, “I am a best selling author” and “I am #1 on Amazon.” And then I started talking about wanting to hit #1. I even told my accountability buddy about it.

And then I made a decision: I would hit #1 on Amazon in 2016.

(Still at this point had no idea HOW I’d do it.)

Not long after, I got an email about a tool called Bestseller Ranking Pro. Out of no way, a HOW had shown up.

I could use this tool to find the right category to put my book in, so people can actually find it. And that will help me get to #1. Boom! I bought the software.

After looking through the BRP categories and info, I decided I was going to write an eBook about the structure of love stories. The “craft” category was a good fit for this book.

I wasn’t totally thrilled with that book idea, but it was an idea to get me started. Thankfully, right after that I got another idea–what if I took the 30-day challenge I just did to help me revamp my writing habits and turned it into an eBook?

That idea really inspired me, so I decided to put that book together and publish it first, and then go back and write the structure of love stories one.

The more practical side of me also had a thought: if I’m going to hit #1, I need to write and publish more books.

So I announced that I was going to write and publish 9 books in 2016. And then I got inspired to invite people to watch me as I wrote and published these books and turned one of them into a best seller.

(Still no real idea HOW I’d do this. Just some nudges and ideas.)

I published “Align Your Writing Habits to Success” in May and two days after it went live it hit #1 on Amazon. (And then my book, “The 15-Minute Writer”hit #1 in multiple categories two months after!)

I had achieved the goal of hitting #1 and being a best selling author on Amazon.

Looking back, I never had any idea HOW I’d do it. I just took whatever actions I could think of.

And that’s the whole point.

It’s NOT about the specific actions that you take. You can take actions that seem random and if you’re still moving in the direction of your desired outcome, the right HOW will eventually show up and you’ll get there.

My story is the perfect example–I was planning on a totally different book hitting #1 by me using the BRP tool and writing a book for a specific category; and a book I never even expected to have hit #1 did, multiple times. (Pretty much shuts up the “you need to know HOW” argument, right?)

How I achieved a #1 best seller on Amazon didn’t happen because of any one thing I did. It happened because of ALL the things I did–this year and all the years leading up to this one.

The HOW that gets you to your desired end result can only be found by creating momentum. And you create momentum by taking action–any actions–that move you in the direction you want to go.

The actions can be simple, easy things and still be powerful enough for the Universe to meet you half-way.

Because the Universe doesn’t care what actions you take. Big or small. Super risky or playing it safe. It just cares that you’re DOING SOMETHING. (Although the bigger, bolder actions always pay off more than staying in your comfort zone.)

Want to become a published author? Write a book. Show up every day and put words on the page. Learn the steps in the self-publishing process. Do your research.

The specific HOW that gets you to the desired end result of being a published author will show up as a result of you doing all those other things.

What you don’t want to do is decide you want something and then sit on your ass thinking it’s just going to show up one day. ‘Cause it doesn’t work like that, sorry.

10 Steps to Making Shit Happen

If you’re been feeling stuck or frozen because you don’t know HOW you’re going to achieve something, or because you’re overwhelmed by HOW much there is to learn and know and do… I’m gonna simplify it for you in 10 basic steps:

  1. Take a deep breath and relax–it’s not that serious.
  2. Remind yourself that you’re in the right place, exactly where you are right now.
  3. Write down your desired end result (one or more).
  4. For each end result you want, make a list of all the things you can think of right now that you could do to move in that direction. It doesn’t matter if the steps are out of order, totally random, or make no practical sense; just write everything down that comes to you.
  5. Choose one of the steps/actions you listed and do it right now.
  6. When that action is done, do the next one. (Whichever one pops out to you as the one to do next.)
  7. Repeat steps 5-6.
  8. Add any new inspired actions and ideas to the list as you go.
  9. Act on as many of the actions and ideas from your list as you can.
  10. Trust that any specific HOW you need to get you to that final end result will show up as a result of you doing steps 5-9.

And there you have it–get the hell out of the HOWS and stay focused on the end result.

Share With Us

What have YOU been holding off or playing small on because you don’t know HOW you’ll make it happen? Share in the comments!

The Pro Writer Mindset Podcast, Episode 5: An Interview With Best Selling Author Chandler Bolt

Listen on  iTunes or Stitcher

Guest Bio:

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-4-06-03-pmChandler Bolt is the author of 5 best selling books including “Book Launch” and his most recent book, “Published.” He’s also the founder & CEO of Self-Publishing School, the #1 online resource for writing your first book. Through his books, training videos, and Self-Publishing School, he’s helped thousands of people on their journey to writing their first book.

Show Notes:

I’m not gonna lie–I was geeking out a bit when Chandler agreed to be a guest on my podcast. I’ve been following his work for a while now and I’m a huge fan of him and what he’s created in the world (not to mention he has some pretty good travel hacks 😉 ).

Here are some of my takeaways from the interview:

  • Don’t take your old book down, even if you write an updated version of it–this was something I was actually thinking about doing because I’m in the process of updating some of my eBooks. Until I heard Chandler’s reasoning for why you shouldn’t do this.
  • Meditation app recommendation: Headspace
  • Book recommendation: The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

Be sure to check out Chandler’s new book, Published, it’s available now!

Share With Us

What’s your biggest takeaway? Share in the comments. 

And if you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher, and share it using the links below.

Do You Have A Nonfiction Book In You? Here’s How To Tell

I believe that most writers have a nonfiction book in them–they’re just not always sure how to pull it out. In situations like this, I share two of my favorite exercises:

  1. Uncovering your book idea
  2. Finding your angle

If you’re not sure that you have a nonfiction book in you, here’s an exercise you can do to find a potential topic you could write about.

The “Uncovering your nonfiction book idea” exercise:

  • Grab your notebook or a piece of paper
  • Draw a line down the center of the page, dividing it into two parts
  • At the top of the left column, write “Skills I have/things I know how to do really well”
  • At the top of the right column, write “Transformations I’ve made/experiences I’ve had”
  • Make lists in each column based on the prompt at the top—now you’ll have two lists of potential topics you could write a nonfiction book about
  • Go through the lists and circle the topics or ideas that most interest you
  • Narrow down the topic/idea and choose one

Once you’ve done this exercise, then complete the exercise below.

The “Find your angle” exercise:

The following exercise will help you find a unique and/or interesting angle for your book topic:

  • Grab your notebook or a piece of paper
  • At the top of the page, write your book topic (or idea)
  • Brainstorm 30 (or more) different angles or approaches you can take on this specific topic
  • Go back through the list and circle anything that pops out as something worth writing
  • Narrow down your circled choices to one (or combine several if it works)

From doing both of these exercises, you should have a bunch of nonfiction book ideas. You don’t have to write all of them, of course. In fact, most you probably won’t write at all.

But you’ve got a whole bunch of ideas to choose from now. And maybe you’ve even proven to yourself that you do actually have a nonfiction book in you.

Share With Us

What potential topic are you considering for a nonfiction book?

Are You Born to Write? You Need to Hear This

You know that day when you finally realized you’re meant to be a writer? That day you knew there was nothing else in the entire world you could see yourself doing forever except writing? That other things will come and go–as is typical for a multi-passionate person–but writing will never say die.

Because you are born to write. It’s in you. It’s who you are.

You couldn’t separate you from your writing, because it would be like separating yourself from a vital organ. Impossible.

If you’re born to write, you know it. You feel it in every cell of your being. And even if you’re not totally 100% confident yet, you know what you are called to do.

Write. Put words on the page. Inspire, motivate, teach, instruct, lead, entertain… with your words. Tell stories, share experiences, pass along messages that connect us all.

I believe those who are called to write have a responsibility–to show up every day; to put words on the page; to hit publish and get those words, those stories, those messages, out into the world.

You have a RESPONSIBILITY.

You were gifted with the written word for a reason. You were born to be a vessel for the ideas, thoughts, lessons, messages, experiences and stories the world needs to hear.

Those things you hear inside you–the characters, thoughts, stories, ideas–they’re REAL. And they want to be let out.

But only YOU can let them out. There is no one else.

They came to you for a reason. Because you’re born to write them. And no one else could ever come close to doing it the justice you will do it.

There is incredible power in being born to write, because words are powerful, stories are powerful, and sharing your thoughts, experiences and message is powerful.

Being born to write isn’t for the faint of heart. No, it’s gifted only to those who can handle it. Those who truly have what it takes to go all the way–to finish and hit publish and get those stories and messages into the hands of the people who need them most.

Writers who are born to write often struggle with it more than writers who choose to write because it’s a hobby they enjoy. This happens because we often have a deep Resistance to doing our soul’s work, our creative work. (Read “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield for more on this.)

And because that Resistance is inevitable–as it is for ALL creative people–writers who are born to write must be that much more committed and that much more disciplined to put words on the page each day.

Even if it’s only for 15 minutes. Even if it’s right before you go to sleep. Even if you have a million other things that seem way more important.

Nothing is more important than putting those stories, experiences and messages on the page and getting them out into the world.

Nothing.

The sooner you see that, the sooner you will start to have everything in your life fall into place. Because here’s the thing–when you’re born to write, you’re connected to writing on a soul level. It’s part of your being.

For that reason, when you ignore your writing, when you skip your writing sessions, when you tell yourself your writing is not that important, when you put it off for later–THAT’S why things are a mess–internally and/or in your life.

Because you cannot ignore your soul and think anything else will work. It might feel like it’s working, even without your all-in on being an author. But I promise you, it can and will work a ton better if you’re putting first things first and getting your writing done.

Every day. Writing is a priority. Before anything else.

If you do this, even 15 minutes a day is enough time to start creating the writing life you’ve always dreamed of having. The writing life you were born to have. And along with it the success, money, fame and whatever else you dream of having.

It all starts with making your writing a priority. Because when you’re born to write, writing is your tool for creating everything you desire.

Share With Us

Are you born to write? Declare it in the comments. 

———–

Along with having a responsibility to write and to publish, born-to-write authors also have a responsibility to get their writing in front of the people who need it most. My Sell More Books masterclass will show you exactly how to do that. Details and sign up here.

Are You Choosing “Thriving Author” Or “Starving Artist?”

So many writers and creative people hold the belief that, “it has to take a long time” and “you’ve gotta pay your dues.” And yeah, it’s also true that A LOT of people hold this belief.

But you know what isn’t true?

That belief. It’s not true. Not even remotely true.

Unless YOU decide that it is.

I’ve decided that 2017 is the year I break six-figures from my book sales. I’ve decided it’s the year I’m going to thrive in my writing career like never before.

Sure, this year has been amazing and I’ve built up some killer momentum. But it’s not enough.

Because I want to blow the ‘starving artist’ mentality OUT OF THE WATER. And, yes, it IS a mentality. One that’s keeping most authors insanely broke and unfulfilled.

But here’s the great part–you can change a mentality. 

You can actively choose the thoughts you think and the beliefs you hold. You can choose to create exactly the writing life you’ve always dreamed of having.

But you have to CHOOSE. Consciously. Actively. Every single day.

You have to decide that you’re not going to accept the ‘starving artist’ mentality as truth for you. You have to decide that you’re going to be an author who THRIVES. 

Yes, it will take time to create this in your physical reality. But it will happen a whole lot faster if you get your mind there first.

And yes, there are people in the world who refuse to see past the limitation that is the ‘starving artist’ mentality. These are the creative people who say things like, “I can’t quit my job and become a full-time writer or I’ll end up living in a cardboard box” or “writing is a hobby” or “one day I’ll make it happen” or “writers are broke” or “it’s just a pipe-dream” or [insert whatever lame excuse you give or have been given for why you can’t thrive as a writer].

Those are the creative people who will never see their full dreams come to fruition. Because it’s impossible to create a big, successful, thriving creative career with a belief like that.

And what’s sad is, just by changing that mindset and by seeing themselves as thriving artists, those same creative people could have a totally different experience.

Because you create your own reality. And you do it with your thoughts, your beliefs and your actions (or inactions). 

So if you’re looking around and you don’t like what you see; if you’re dreaming of being a thriving author, meanwhile you’re still holding a day job and barely making book sales, it’s time for a mindset intervention.

It’s time to go within, dig around, pull out those limiting beliefs–the ones that are stopping you and holding you back–and GET RID OF THEM!!!

And you really don’t even have to dig around. If you want to know what limiting beliefs you currently have, you can find out by doing 2 things:

  1. Looking around you–your reality is a reflection of all that you’ve thought, believed and acted on up to this point.
  2. Start telling yourself new, empowering beliefs–just by doing this, you’ll start to catch all the limiting beliefs because they’ll show up as that negative voice inside that tells you you’re wrong or that you can’t do it, etc., whenever you say the new beliefs.

You really can change your life by changing your thoughts. 

So your choice is to either continue buying into the ‘starving artist’ mentality, and believing that it has to be a struggle, that you have to work insanely hard and pay your dues, and that even if you do eventually make it, you’ll be lucky to earn low five-figures a year from your creative work.

OR, you can tell yourself something different.

You can tell yourself that you make millions from your books. And that you quit your job and become a full-time writer who thrives and has more than enough, always. And that your books hit the NY Times Best Seller list and get turned into Hollywood movies. (‘Cause that’s what you’re really dreaming of, right?)

Which one inspires you? Which ones makes you feel better? Which one motivates you to take action?

Exactly. The thriving artist version.

And when it all comes down to it, it’s just a perspective. If you choose to believe in ‘starving artists,’ then that’s what you’re going to find in your experience. And if you choose to believe in ‘thriving artists,’ then that’s what you’re going to find in your experience.

The reality you choose to experience is totally up to you. 

For example, a few months ago I decided that I’m well-known in the writing industry and that big-name people contact me and want to partner with me and work with me. I decided that my podcast is a must-listen for writers everywhere and that big-name people want to be interviewed by me.

This past weekend, I booked a big-name guest for my podcast AND I got contacted by a big-name author who wanted to talk to me about how we can help each other out.

Your reality is what you decide it’s gonna be. So decide you’re going to be a thriving author and you will be.

Share With Us

Do you choose “starving artist” or “thriving author?” Declare it in the comments! 

———–
Are you ready to drop the ‘starving artist’ mentality and learn how to sell more books? Check out the masterclass I’m hosting: www.jenniferblanchard.net/sellmorebooks

How I Sold 2,300+ Books in 31 Days

Selling books. Making money. Being a full-time author. Pretty much the dream writing life for most writers.

And yet, so many authors aren’t having this experience. So many are feeling frustrated and like they’re wasting their time because it’s never going to happen.

Maybe you’ve felt (or feel) this way?

I know I have. Back before I decided to take control of my writing destiny, I used to feel that way all the time. Like, what’s the point? I have these great books out there and barely anyone is reading them. 

This year, I had a breakthrough. I finally stepped up my productivity, my writing habits and, most importantly, got my mind in the game. And now that I’ve done those things, I’m selling an average of 1,000+ books a month, pretty much without even trying. (That’s not to say I didn’t ever have to try. Of course I did, it’s just now I have momentum. More on that below.)

But I had one month this year that was bigger than all the other months (at least, so far). In July, I sold 2,312 books (and made a little over $800)!! Not bad for 31 days.

I recently did a breakdown to see what exactly went into selling that many books, and now averaging 1,000+ sales a month. And here’s what I came out with:

1. Get Into Alignment

For the first time ever, I’m finally in full alignment with the writing goals I have and the writing career that I want. I’m no longer fighting it. I’m not playing small or acting like it doesn’t really matter to me. I’m setting an intention for exactly what I want to create and I’m taking actions every day to move in that general direction.

That’s what alignment is. It means that your thoughts, beliefs, words and actions are all working in harmony and moving in the same direction. 

Being in alignment has helped me to start writing, publishing and selling more books.

2. Have An “I Sell Books” Mindset

Believe it or not, your mind is the source of everything you currently see in your reality (whether you like it or not). Hard to accept, I know, because then you have to take responsibility for the fact that you believe shitty things that are holding you back and you have negative thoughts that are limiting your success.

But when you can just accept where you are–and accept all that you’ve created up to this point–you can start to create something new.

In February of this year, I amped up the mindset work I started doing back in August 2015 and began a daily practice of writing intentions in my journal. One of those daily intentions was, “I am a bestselling author.” Another was, “I sell thousands of books every month.”

I still write intentions like that every single day. Because out of everything I’ve done in my writing career, the best thing I ever did for myself was start a daily mindset practice. It has hands-down changed everything for me.

When you have an “I sell books” mindset, as opposed to an “it’s hard to sell books” mindset or an “I wish I knew how to sell more books” mindset, it really can be the difference between making sales and not making sales. Because you create in your reality what you believe in your mind. And if you believe that it’s hard to sell books or that you don’t know how to sell books, that’s exactly what you will experience.

Decide right now that you’re going to create an “I sell books” mindset and don’t ever look back.

3. Publish Multiple Books

I see so many authors spending time on marketing when all they have is one book. And while, yes, you do have to do some marketing for that book, you also want to make it a priority to write and publish the next book. Because what happens if someone buys your book, loves it and then there’s nothing else for them to buy?

You got it–they go elsewhere.

So if you don’t have at least 2 books published, it’s time to get to work. I started selling 1,000+ books a month when I had 6 books published. Now that I’ve got 8 (with more in the works), I know my book sales numbers will keep growing.

The best way to sell a book is with another book. 

4. Build Relationships–With Readers and People In Your Industry/Genre

After a year of blogging, I decided to branch out and start guest posting (where you publish your articles on someone else’s blog). Doing that helped me to connect with editors in the writing industry (on blogs where my target readers are), and from those connections came other opportunities.

For example, in July, I was invited to participate in a one-day, 99 cent eBook promo along with 8 other authors. The other authors were all well-known writers who have big communities of writers and authors. So by having a connection with the person running the promotion, I was not only invited to participate, but I got my book in front of 8 new audiences. I also made connections with the other authors who were part of the promo.

And, of course, I had my biggest book sales month ever.

Relationships are everything when it comes to online marketing. So if you’re not already making connections and building relationships with potential promo partners and potential readers, now’s the time to start.

5. Launch A New Book

In the month of July, I launched my eBook, The 15-Minute Writer: How To Write Your Book In Only 15 Minutes A Day. This was a brand new book, which means every single person who saw it or checked it out was new to it. It was something that even my repeat readers could buy.

Having a new book can make it easier to get sales, especially if you’ve already got a few books out there that people have bought.

This goes back to what I said about having multiple books. And what’s cool about Amazon (and other sites) is once you’ve got a few books out and enough reviews, it will start suggesting your book to people who look at related books.

6. Charge 99 cents

I’ve been testing out pricing this year, to see if it makes a difference. When all of my books are 99 cents, I sell a lot more of them than when I charge more.

I know that sounds crazy–all that hard work and then you only get a 35% royalty from Amazon! (I do have a couple books that cost $2.99 as well.)

But when your book is 99 cents, people are more willing to give it a try. Everyone has wasted a dollar at some point in their life, so 99 cents is less of a risk than a book that costs more. 

If you’re just starting out or are a new author, I highly recommend trying a 99 cent pricing strategy. It may just be the difference between making sales or not.

As you grow, get more known and have more books available, then you can have a mix of prices and increase your overall profit.

7. Build Momentum

I’ve been online since 2008 and building my following ever since. Which means I’ve had 8+ years of connecting, building relationships, and growing a readership. I have momentum.

You can create momentum too, and it doesn’t have to take 8 years. If you focus on what’s really important about book marketing (hint: it’s not about selling books), you can make it happen a lot faster. 

Once you’ve got momentum, your books can almost sell themselves. That’s not to say I’m not still doing marketing, but I don’t put a ton of energy into marketing my books at the moment, and I’m still selling 1,000+ a month.

Book marketing is like a roller coaster–at first it’s a slow climb, but when you hit the tipping point, it’s all momentum from there.

Share With Us

What’s one thing you can do today to start selling more books? Share in the comments. 

———–

Are you ready to make more sales and learn the right way to market your books? Then check out my upcoming masterclass: Sell More Books. I’m teaching you everything you need to know to kick-ass in your online book marketing, and then some. Full details here

The Worst Book Marketing Myth Ever (And How To Defuse It)

If you’ve ever published a book, or are in the process of writing and publishing one, you’ve likely thought about marketing and what you’ll need to do to make book sales. Because that’s what it’s all about, right? Selling books.

And while that’s not totally wrong, it’s also not totally right.

Selling books is the goal, yes. But it’s not what the focus of your book marketing should be.

That’s where I see so many authors getting it wrong.

And that’s why when you go into writing groups on Facebook or Google+, a lot of times it’s just a promo fest of people drive-by sharing links to their books. Or you see people’s social media accounts just covered in promos, but without any real value to be found.

Totally worthless and the worst way to try and make a book sale.

Why? Because of two reasons:

  1. People aren’t on social media to buy stuff–social media is supposed to be for being social, so people aren’t reading stuff or watching stuff and thinking, “I need to buy that right now.” They’re there to engage and connect with other humans, and also to be entertained.
  2. There’s not enough value in a book promo on social media to get someone to open their wallet–and on the off-chance that someone does buy directly via social media, it’s because the value being presented in the post (written, video, etc) is so awesome that they can’t not buy.

So, if you’ve been trying to sell your book by posting promos on social media (or in Facebook groups) and it hasn’t worked, it’s time for a new strategy.

What Actually Sells Books

When it comes down to the core of what online marketing is, you’ll find two things:

1. Relationships–online marketing is all about building relationships and making connections with other people, both potential readers and industry-related.

2. Valuable content–at the core of online marketing is content. Content is what helps you make the connections and build the relationships that will earn you a readership. Now ‘value’ will be defined by you and the type of book that you’re marketing.

For example, if your book is a humorous novel, creating content aligned with that makes the most sense for adding value. So sharing things that make people laugh is a good way for you to connect with your readership and get them interested in your novel.

And these two things–when combined–are what sells books.

The worst book marketing myth is that it’s all about selling books. It’s not. And believing that is what’s keeping you from selling books.

Especially if you’re trying to market your books online (which most authors these days are).

People go online for one of three reasons:

  1. To learn something
  2. To be entertained
  3. Both

And that’s what you need to be thinking about when you do your book marketing.

Book marketing is not about selling books. It’s about being an interesting author (with an impactful message) who teaches potential readers something, entertains them or both, and because of that connection and that relationship with the potential reader, they will buy a book from you.

Your New Book Marketing Strategy

From here on out, you’re no longer allowed to do drive-by book promos on social media. (And I know YOU wouldn’t be doing that anyhow, because that’s not how a pro writer thinks or acts, right?) You’re no longer allowed to only post things that just promo your book.

From here on out, your marketing strategy is the following:

  • Build connections with readers and with industry/genre-related people
  • Create valuable content that your ideal reader wants and needs
  • Share your author message, in whatever way makes sense for you

There’s a lot more to it than that, but these are the foundational pieces of being a success author and successfully marketing your book online.

I got where I am right now with my publishing career because I spent 8+ years of my life building a following, connecting with others in my industry and delivering valuable, kick-ass content (on a consistent basis) that my ideal readers want. I’m now living my dream writing life, and it just gets better and better every day.

If you want to create your dream writing life, where you can write and publish books and actually sell them and make money, you’ve gotta be in it for the long-haul. And this is a long-haul book marketing strategy.

No, it won’t make you sales immediately overnight (unless you’ve already got a bit of a following), but it will help you build an author brand that will make sales–and, eventually, enough sales to support you in being the full-time author you’ve always dreamed of being.

Share With Us

How do you get the word out about your books?

———–

Are you ready to sell more books?? Doors to my upcoming live-virtual “Sell More Books” workshop will be opening soon! Join the waitlist to be the first to know when the doors are open.  

Are You In It For This?

A common complaint I hear from writers is this–why does it take so long? 

And when they say that, they mean: why isn’t my book selling? Why am I still revising when I want to be published? Why have I been looking for an agent for a year now without any bites?

And, most of all, when am I finally gonna make some money?

I know it’s tough. You’ve been at this for years, possibly even most of your life so far. You’ve dreamed about it, you’ve set goals around it. And yet things just seem to be moving like molasses.

And here’s what I always say to the writers who make this complaint: I feel you, but it takes as long as it takes. 

Because the truth about this whole being a pro writer thing is that it’s long-term. Being a writer and having a successful writing career doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of hard work, commitment and consistency to start seeing the results you want.

So you either have to be in it for the long-haul, or you may as well get out now. 

Because, like everything in life, writing success is a journey, it’s a process, it’s something that builds over time. And you may not see it at first, but when you look back 10, 20, 30 years down the road, you’ll see how far you’ve come and how long it actually takes to create success.

No one does it overnight.

I started freelance writing professionally in 2007, and launched my writing blog in 2008. I wrote and published my first nonfiction eBook in March 2010. Since then, I’ve written and publish 7 other books, including one novel. And it’s only since mid-2016 that things have finally started to take off for me.

This year, I’ve written and published more books than I ever have before. This year, I had 2 of my books hit #1 in multiple categories over multiple days on Amazon. This year, I’ve started making real money from my books, anywhere from $400 to $1,000+ per month, and growing.

But I had 8 years online and another 7 years before that learning and training and practicing and working toward the moment when I would hit a tipping point and my writing career would finally take off.

It happened this year. 

And if it happened for me, it can and will happen for you. But you’ve gotta give up the idea that it’s gonna happen fast. It’s not. It’s gonna happen when it happens.

For now, you need to keep going and do whatever you can to create good writing habits, get in alignment with the goals you have, and be as consistent as possible. Because it’s in the consistency over an extended period of time where results really come from.

When you look at the stories of successful people, you’ll see it wasn’t just one thing that got them where they are today. They didn’t find a magic bullet that changed everything.

No, it was all about the daily habits and actions they took, over years and years of their lives, that got them where they are today. 

Because that’s what it takes. Daily: Consistency. Commitment. A never-give-up attitude. And some serious elbow grease.

So, again, I ask you: are you in it for the long-haul? 

Are you willing to stick with it and do whatever it takes?

Even if it looks like it’s not working?

Even if it looks like it’s never going to happen?

Even if there’s barely a shred of hope left inside you?

Did you answer “yes” to those questions? If you did, congratulations. You’re gonna make it. You’ve got what it takes.

And yeah, it is gonna take time. Some days it’ll feel impossible. Other days it will feel easy like Sunday morning.

But every day you show up will feel worth it. And eventually that worth-it feeling will grow into more than just a feeling. It will grow into an actual writing career where you get paid to write and put your words out into the world. 

Because you can’t not get where you want to go if you show up every day and keep going no matter what. It’s literally impossible. 

It might take blood, sweat, tears and time, but it will happen. That much you can count on.

And whenever you find yourself freaking out, panicking or worried that it’s all for nothing, I leave you with one of my all-time favorite quotes, from the book, A Course In Miracles:

“Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait, and wait without anxiety.” 

Share With Us

Are you in it for the long-haul? Say YES in the comments! 

The Pro Writer Mindset Podcast, Episode 4: An Interview with Kindlepreneur Founder, Dave Chesson

You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes and Stitcher

Guest Bio:

Dave Chesson is an 11-year veteran of the Navy and the founder of Kindlepreneur.com, a site that provides Kindle authors with the tools they need to help more readers find their books.

Show Notes:

I met Dave at Jeff Goins’ TRIBE Writers Conference, and right away knew he was someone I needed to talk to for this podcast. He not only runs a popular website that helps Kindle authors find more readers, but he’s also a best selling author himself, and has created a successful business where he now gets to work at home and hang with his kids.

In other words, he’s freaking awesome.

Here are some of my takeaways from the interview:

  • Amazon keywords don’t just work for nonfiction books–fiction authors can also take advantage of keywords to help more readers find their books
  • When you search for keywords on Amazon, you should use “incognito mode” on the Chrome browser, so Amazon doesn’t know it’s you searching (apparently if Amazon knows it’s you, it skews the search results and shows you different stuff than if it’s someone else searching)
  • You can use the same keywords from Amazon to create your Facebook ad copy, which can help you convert readers into book buyers

Share With Us

What’s your biggest takeaway? Share in the comments. 

And if you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher, and share it using the links below.

How To Go From Idea to Published Novel: A Timeline

NOTE: This is a guest post from my client, Zara Quentin, who just published her debut novel, Airwoman. Enjoy! –jen

How long does it take to write a novel? Years? Decades? You’ve probably been writing for some time–you may even have more than one ‘bottom-drawer’ novel (AKA: practice novel), right?

That’s how it was for me—years of writing drafts I couldn’t bring myself to revise, because I didn’t think it was worth the time or the energy.

In 2015, all that changed. I decided I was going to publish a book in 2016. I’d been fooling around with my writing dream for years, expecting a published novel to be many more years in the making—if it ever happened at all.

I remember making that decision—it changed the way I thought about writing.

Here is a timeline of how I wrote and published, Airwoman: Book 1:

The First Three Months: Idea to Planning (August to October 2015)

I distinctly remember getting the idea for Airwoman. My main character, Jade Gariq (though I didn’t know her name back then), came to me one dark and stormy night in mid-August 2015. She perched on my windowsill, wings and all. She was running from something, seeking refuge. She intrigued me.

Soon after that, in early September, Story Coach, Jennifer Blanchard, ran a free 7-day story planning challenge in the 1% Writers Facebook Group (which I’m a member of) and I started to flesh out my idea based on the character who had visited me that night. I really enjoyed the challenge and decided I’d try NaNoWriMo, which was a few months away. So when Jennifer opened up her NaNoWriMo 6-week story development course, I decided to get on board.

It was around this time that I made the decision to publish my novel in 2016. Call it a mid-life crisis moment, but I suddenly realized that, after having my third child, life wasn’t going to get any less busy. Not in the short term. If I wanted to pursue my writing, I just had to do it. I had to make time for it.

A few days after I’d made that decision, I got an email from Jennifer, revealing her Novel By Next Year course, which involved having her as a coach and guide through the planning, drafting and publishing stages.

It felt like fate. I was in.

So for the rest of September and October, I planned Airwoman: Book 1 until I had a scene roadmap of the entire novel. I had never planned to this extent before—but instead of being bored by the planning, it made me excited to get started writing.

At the end of October, I moved (somewhat unexpectedly) with my family from New Zealand (where we had been living for two years) back to Australia. With three young children, and a house full of stuff, it was full on. In consultation with Jennifer, I put the roadmap aside for a couple of weeks, let NaNoWriMo pass me by, and focused on the move.

Sometimes, life happens, right?

First Draft – Facing the Blank Page (November 2016 – January 2016)

It was about mid-November before I was able to focus on writing again. I took a week or so to look over my scene roadmap again and tweak it in a few places. Then I took a deep breath and dove into writing the first draft.

The first draft is a daunting time for a writer–facing the blank page. However, with a detailed roadmap, it was easier than ever. I didn’t wonder what to write in the next scene. Instead, I thought about the detail of it. I watched the movie of the scene inside my head, then transcribed it onto the page.

And so I wrote. Every day.

Every single day for about two months. I wrote every evening after the kids had gone to bed, during their nap-time (if they went down). I snatched whatever time I could for writing.

I had a goal of writing 500 words per day at least–a small goal, not too daunting. Usually once 500 words is written, I’ll write a lot more. But on an off-day, I gave myself permission to hit 500 words then stop.

I finished the first draft just after New Year, in early January 2016. The first draft came out to about 80,000 words.

My Manuscript Rested – I Did Not (January – February 216)

Although I already had some ideas about how I could improve my first draft, I was determined to give the manuscript a proper rest so that I could come back to it with fresh eyes. I had a six week break before I read through it again.

But I was not idle during this time.

Instead, I set up my author website, a blog and my social media accounts. I developed my brand and the focus for my blog. I worked on, not just creating the platforms, but being active on those forums regularly.

I announced to the world I was a writer and that I was publishing a book. This took a lot of courage–finally confessing to being a writer and giving myself a public deadline.

Suddenly, my decision back in September 2015 seemed to loom. October wasn’t all that far away and I had to finish a book. A whole book! What was I thinking?

Taking A Deep Breath. And Plunging Into Revisions (March to June 2016)

In March, I dared to read through my first draft. Happily, it wasn’t as bad as I feared, though it definitely needed work.

During the first draft phase, Jennifer had been reading through my draft week by week and sending feedback, which I’d held over for the revision phase as I’d wanted to just get the first draft down on the page. She then read through the whole draft again and provided me with copious notes, which I put together with my own to make my revision schedule.

After a first read through, I read it again and made more notes about what needed to change. Then I made a revision roadmap—listing each scene, the changes that needed to be made and a timeline of events. I also drew up some maps of my story world, which helped me to keep track of the action throughout the story.

I learned a lot from the revision process. Firstly, though I would consider world-building to be one of my strengths, more often than not, it didn’t make its way onto the page. I often had my characters moving through a blank canvas and, though I saw the backdrop in my head, readers wouldn’t have that advantage. During my revisions, I needed to set the scene.

I also had to flesh out characterization and character motivations in some cases. A few events needed to be switched around or fleshed out for greater impact.

I also learned that revision wasn’t a chore of a task, as I had always imagined it would be. I actually enjoyed the opportunity to improve the story. That became my goal—working out how to make the story better.

Once I had completed the revision roadmap, I dove into the redraft (the second draft). During this phase, I went through my manuscript scene by scene, taking what I could from the first draft and altering, rewriting or scrapping things depending on what needed to be done. This took most of March and April.

Once that was finished, I read it through again and fixed some consistency errors, made a few more tweaks.

Then, as luck would have it, at the end of June, my family and I had to move interstate (again, somewhat unexpectedly). That took another couple of weeks out of the writing process as I managed yet another move. Luckily, I was in a position to send what I considered the third draft to a developmental editor and some Beta Readers.

An Outside Opinion: Biting My Fingernails and More Revision (July to September 2016)

It was a nerve-wracking time, sending out my manuscript to people I didn’t know and who hadn’t been with me on this journey so far. When they didn’t immediately get back to me, I feared the worst. What if they hated it and were trying to find a way to phrase it nicely? I had to remind myself that they also had busy schedules.

In the meantime, I started to liaise with to my cover designer. It was an interesting process because-–despite wanting something amazing–I really had no idea of what I wanted on the cover. My cover was in his hands! Thankfully, he came back with a number of ideas, which we then discussed so that he understood what I liked and didn’t like, and where we would go with it.

One-by-one, at the end of July and early August, the editor and Beta Readers came back to me with their comments. Despite my fears, their feedback was encouraging. They’d liked the story, but showed me ways to improve it. I really grew as a writer through this feedback. In pointing out where the manuscript needed improvement, I learned both what I’m good at, and what I need to work on. Their advice helped me to improve Airwoman, but I believe it will also help me to improve my future writing too.

At this point, I set down to revise my manuscript again, and also set a date for publication: October 25th! The date loomed on my calendar as I realized how little time there was left.

I revised through August until I felt the manuscript didn’t need any more tweaking. In early September, I got to proofreading. In September, I also worked with the cover designer to finalize the cover. At the end of September the final manuscript went to the formatter to format it for print and Kindle.

a4-airwoman-coverAll Systems Go for Launch (October 2016)

When I picked October 25 for the publication date, I had hoped to have a month to promote the book before it came out. In the end, I had about three weeks as I waited until the final cover, the pre-order was set up on Amazon (along with relevant links) and a free preview was available on my site.

During this time, I went back and forth with the formatter, making sure the interior was as I wanted it, and correcting those last typos (always some!). I set up my author profile on Amazon and Goodreads. I also started blogging about the inspiration behind my book, sharing photos and contacting book bloggers and reviewers to garner interest in reviewing it.

I set up a Virtual Launch Party on Facebook and did some guest posting, trying to get word out about my novel. The marketing was new for me, but I found I enjoyed it—it was a challenge to think about ways to promote my book.

Finally, the big day came. I held my book in my hands. It went out into the world where other people could read it. It was the height of vulnerability—allowing complete strangers to read and comment on my book which, as every writer would know, is like baring their very soul for others to comment o.

But I did it. In a little over a year, I published my debut novel, Airwoman: Book 1. It felt so good.

That’s Just the Beginning

It was one hell of a year! I’ve grown more in the last year as a writer, than I had in the many years of writing before that. By finally giving myself permission to invest in my dream, I took a big leap in learning—about story craft, about myself as a writer and about the publication process. I’m very lucky that I had Jennifer Blanchard to hold my hand throughout the process. Without her, I doubt I would have come so far so soon. Having someone to bounce ideas off, read my work, encourage and guide me has been invaluable.

I’m pleased to have achieved my goal, but this is not the end. I’m not a one-book writer. Obviously Airwoman: Book 1 is the first in a series. I’ve got a series overview fleshed out and have planned the second book. I’m itching to get started on it.

The writer’s journey is an exciting ride, and I’m only at the beginning.

Share With Us

How far along are you on your writer journey? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

About the Author: Zara Quentin is the author of Airwoman: Book 1. She inherited a love of travel from her parents, who took her and her sister on trips to the United States, Europe, and Asia as children. Zara now resides in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children. She is currently working on the next instalment in the Airwoman series. You can read the first three chapters of Airwoman for free here.

———–

If you want help taking your story from idea to published, just like Zara did, be sure to apply to work with me and my team of self-publishing pros. You can fill out the application here.