That’s a good question.
Who am I and why do you care what I have to say?
If someone has done what YOU want to do, and they are willing to tell you how THEY did it, that might help YOU do it.
There were a lot of steps in the process of how I got here – wherever “here” is. Maybe we should talk about a few of the steps.
First of all, have I done what you wanna do?
I have 22 published titles and I have been translated in 12 different languages. I am read all over the world, in more than 100 countries. I am an international best-selling author. I have been a critique partner for many bestselling authors and a New York Times Bestselling Author. I’ve been a writing coach and story doctor for hundreds of writers.
Yeah, don’t dislocate your arm patting yourself on the back, Mr. Arrogant.
No, no, no.
I DID IT IN STEPS, AND I WANNA HELP MAKE THOSE STEPS AS SHORT AS POSSIBLE FOR YOU.
I’m not yet 100% where I want to be, and probably neither are you, but I’m making progress every day. I’ve also been where you’ve been. Maybe I’ve been where you are.
And I got from there to here
And I want to help you get from there to here
See, here’s the thing
Few people become successful on their own. The quarterback of the team that wins the Super Bowl might get the spotlight, but he’s usually the first one to tell you there are a bunch of other guys on the team, too.
And it’s because I’ve done a bunch of different things that I can tell you: some things work and some things don’t. And also, things change.
What am I talking about?
BLOGGING IS A STEP
Well many times I’ve told you that for years I had no readers on my blog at all. Certainly for the first eight or 10 months there only were like three – that is no lie. I can show you the numbers if you want to see them. I prefer not to show them because it’s embarrassing, or was; but it’s only now that I have nice numbers that I’m not afraid to point to how bad those numbers used to be. At the time, you could not have gotten those numbers out of me at gunpoint. Those numbers were locked up tighter than a bank vault.
Now my blog has lots of followers. And I’m happy to share how to do that with you because I believe it’s important for your author platform.
There are other social media like Facebook and Twitter that you can also do. Some people do Instagram. Basically you do whatever appeals to you and whatever you enjoy. I don’t enjoy Twitter that much so I don’t do it very much. At one point I was really working Twitter hard and I had 18,000 followers. (Now I have 12,000 followers and I’m fine with that.)
Look at some of the things I’ve been able to do.
REACHING OUT IS A STEP
Because I was a new author who didn’t know anything about marketing or putting out a book or anything else, I found author groups that would tell me how to do those things.
I was very active in those groups and I asked all kinds of stupid questions for two reasons. First of all, I needed to know the information, and second of all, I knew if I was asking the question other people had the question as well. They just were too shy to ask.
So I said, if I won’t let my shyness stop me, I can ask things and maybe these people will tell me
I knew one thing for sure. If I didn’t ask them, they weren’t going to tell me.
So I asked.
I asked authors who were selling more books than me and who have been around longer than me.
And they told me all sorts of helpful stuff!
Real, live authors who were selling lots and lots of books each day, who made a living selling books, helped me learn.
And one of my friends made a comment later that I think is applicable. She said when she encountered somebody who wanted to learn, she knew she had somebody who wanted to get better.
And I think that’s what these people saw in me. The desire to become a better author – and eventually a better marketer and other things.
A CRITIQUE GROUP CAN BE A STEP
I joined a critique group after that because somebody said I should…
But I held off on doing that for a very, very, very, very, VERY long time. Much longer than I should have, because
within 90 days of joining that critique group, I started cranking out one of my best-selling books ever.
A book that I am extremely proud of and a book that I think will be relevant 20 years from now.
But think about what I just said.
I probably don’t write that book if I don’t join that critique group.
Many of you are scared of the negative feedback you’ll receive in a critique group when you have to actually show your story to other people. That fear holds you back.
I was arrogant. I thought I knew how to tell good stories – and I did, of a certain variety. Arrogance held me back. And arrogance if often just fear in disguise. So I had to get past that hurdle.
The constant positive feedback I got from the group spurred me like a horse on a race track and I suddenly became very prolific because I thrive on that kind of stuff.
I learned THAT about myself in the critique group, too.
In that critique group, I found plenty of people who didn’t know what they were talking about, but I found some who did. I found some people who were on the cusp of creating a bestseller and I became friends with them, not because I wanted friends but because I wanted to become a better author. They were that. I wanted that.
Fast forward a few books.
Some did great, some did not so great.
Probably that has more to do with marketing than anything else.
And marketing constantly changes, so what worked for me three or four years ago may not be working right now – and I have to constantly learn the new stuff! That sucks because I thought once I learned marketing I was done. No, it keeps changing.
MARKETING IS A @%^!! STEP
And so does writing, kind of. Not as quick as marketing, for sure, but it does change a little bit year-by-year. Tastes change. Audiences become more sophisticated.
When they do, you have to fight on.
And that’s hard, ‘cos you’ll wanna QUIT.
And there’s probably nobody there telling you to keep going.
PERSISTENCE IS A STEP
We talked about writing stories together, me and some of my followers on the blog. Nice idea but it didn’t work out. (Try scheduling a bunch of authors with no time to write, to all have availability at the same time. Ha!)
But one thing that did work was having a contest.
People kept telling me I should have a writing contest – so I did. And it was a big hit! Now it’s fun because from that contest we were able to encourage several contestants to go on and publish their books! How cool is that!
Also from the contests came new people to the blog and some of them were really good writers. And some of them had best-selling books. And I became friends with some of them!
From a contest!
It just goes to show, you never know.
From the contest came the thought, why only have one winner? Why not take so many of these great stories from published authors and unpublished authors and put them together in a book and publish that? It will help market everyone and give some of these new people their first published piece!
So we did.
And from that came a number one best-selling book!
So now people kind a got the idea that this blog might be the place to be.
That something special is happening here.
I don’t disagree.
Really, if you want to boil it down to the essence, it’s this: I’m just trying to help people get published. Why? Because that’s what they want and that’s what I want, so let’s do it. Let’s help each other.
What I learn, I share here.
Because I don’t believe I can get to the top of the mountain by myself.
I don’t believe one person rowing a boat is as efficient or effective as 20 people all rowing in the same boat and rowing in the same direction.
I believe a bunch of people who have similar interests who share ideas, can help each other all do better and all achieve what they’re all trying to achieve without diminishing each other in the process.
We’ve seen this many times in history, but probably my most favorite one is the point to the friendships that existed between movie directors Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Brian de Palma, Martin Scorsese, and Francis Ford Coppola – when they were all UNKNOWNS.
There are a few others who were in that group but basically there was a handful of guys in California who all became wildly successful film directors and dominated the industry.
Because they competed in a friendly manner but they helped each other – by being brutally honest about the work.
- What they liked, they said they liked.
- What they didn’t like, they said they didn’t like.
- And often they offered ways to improve it.
If I have 2 or 20 or 200 people that I’m doing that for and who are doing that for me, we are all going to be wildly successful.
The first step?
You have to take it. I can’t push you; you have to step forward.
If publishing a book is in you, entering a contest might be a good first step.
That’s not the first that I took, but it’s the first step that has launched a lot of other people and I don’t know of too many contests that have these types of quality author type people involved with them.
Take the step.