Notes from An Alien

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The Successful Writer


Becoming a successful writer depends, completely, on your definition of “success”. Success for Writers

Success As Money is the most uncontrollable goal you can set.

Sure, there are things that can be done to enhance a writer’s chance of making money; but, none of them is a sure bet.

Success As Readership is a goal that’s easier to reach if you’re willing to give away lots of copies of your work.

Combining success goals is probably the most reliable way to find “success” but, if you never define the word, you may never know if you’ve reached it… 

So, what’s a writer to do if they honestly can’t seem to define the kind of success they want to pursue?

Perhaps, reading a book by an author who was successful with traditional publishing then went on to become more successful with self-publishing?

An author who loves the money he makes but has other goals wrapped up in his success-strategy?

An author who has a highly developed sense of humor?

An author who wrote the book that’s over 350,000 words long and is called The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing (Everything A Writer Needs To Know)?

An author who’s name is Joe Konrath?

The guy I talked about and shared a video of in the past post, The Best Book On How To Be Successful As A Writer?

Yeah, that guy

So, this is a very long book but it’s only $2.99 on Amazon.

And, because it’s a compilation of four years of Joe’s blog, it’s in handy blog-sized chunks.

Plus, it covers nearly any aspect of working toward nearly any success goal you can imagine.

It does have typos in it; but, do check out my past post concerning typos—A Book Review That Teaches The Author Something About Typos . . .

And anyway, even though I’m always brought up short when I notice a typo, it somehow just doesn’t seem to matter all that much when reading Joe.

He’s a very personable writer.

And, even though I have no interest in genre-writing and Joe is a genre-writer, he still “Speaks” to me.

So, if you’re just not sure what “success” should mean to you as a writer (or, if you’re someone who thinks they may want to be a writer) this is the best book I’ve yet found to help you massage your mind and figure out your own personal path toward “success”

Here are some of Joe’s ideas from the book:

“Luck Is Important

“I say this all the time. In fact, I think it’s the #1 factor in determining success in this business. But I’ve never specifically identified what luck is. In essence: Getting someone within the industry with enough power and money to recognize they can make money from your work. That’s luck. It involves having the right book, in the right place, at the right time. Too soon, too late, wrong person, not good enough — these all can minimize your luck. But hard work, paying attention, and being willing to roll with the punches and accept criticism can maximize your luck. Still, at the end of the day, it always comes down to a roll of the dice. No one said it would be fair, easy, or fun. But if this is your dream, it is worthwhile to pursue it.

“Why do I pursue it?

“First, because I love to tell stories. I think it’s a fundamental part of the human experience.

“Second, because making a living doing something I love is the whole point of life.

“Third, because I’m ensuring my little place in history.

“The most important thing I can do as a human being is be a good husband and father. And yet, who remembers husbands and fathers? How many can you name that you don’t personally know? But writers — everyone can name a dozen writers. That I’m able to reach people, and at the same time become immortal through my work; that speaks to to the essence of what I believe humanity is. As a species, we love to create things. I’m doing my part and making my mark, in a way that makes me thrilled to be alive.

“Understand The Industry

“The publishing industry is broken. No doubt about it. Any business that allows returns, where a 50% sell-through is considered successful, where no one can figure out why things succeed or fail, is fundamentally flawed. But the more you know about how things work, the better you can manipulate the system. Good decision-making comes down to facts. The better informed you are, the likelier your decisions will be correct. Listen. Ask questions. Follow examples. Experiment. Take chances. Stay alert.

“The Harder You Try, The More Books You’ll Sell

“You will not become a bestseller by doing all the things I tell you to do, no matter how logical or well-informed I appear. You will not become a bestseller through your blog, your touring, your speaking efforts, your internet efforts, or you social networks. The only way you will become a bestseller is to have your books available, at a discount, in as many places as possible. And that’s beyond your control. That said, every little thing you do to sell your books can help your career. Books sell one at a time. If you’re the one that sells them, one at a time, its one more that probably would not have sold without your efforts.

“The Race Is With Yourself

“You can’t ever compare yourself to any other writer. EVER. This isn’t like the business world, where certain positions have a salary range. You can make $100 a year, or $5,000,000 a year, with no discernible difference in your output or your quality. If you want to compare yourself to someone, compare yourself to yourself. Monitor your successes. Learn from your failures (and if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying hard enough.) Try different things, make mistakes, grow, adapt, evolve. Your peers are a tool you can use to better yourself. But they are NEVER something to aspire to. Your only aspirations should be within your control. Which brings us to:

“Set Achievable Goals

“Goals should be within your power. In other words, anything that involves a yes or no from another human being isn’t a goal, it’s a dream. You can and should dream, and dream big. But ‘I want to be a bestseller’ isn’t a goal. ‘I want to attend three writing conferences this year, polish my novel, and send queries to ten agents by November’ is a goal. Learn the difference. And don’t forget to reward yourself when you reach those goals.

“Love It

“The term ‘tortured artist’ is an oxymoron. Art is not food, clothing, or shelter. Art is what we do to express and entertain ourselves…”
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Are You A Successful, Unpublished Author?


successful unpublished writer Does it seem like the title of this post has a mistake in it?

Do “Successful” and “Unpublished” go together??

What is “Success” for a writer???

From another perspective, is a writer successful if they are consistently writing—honing their craft—expressing their creativity—perfecting their art—but, not publishing?

Try this conversation on for size:

~~~

Jane:  “So, you’re a writer, are you, Sarah?  Where are you published?”

Sarah:  “Actually, I’m glad you asked.  You see, I’ve chosen not to publish my work as yet.”

Jane:  “Oh.  Okay.  Well, why is that?”

Sarah:  “I don’t want to just publish anything.  I want to really hone my craft.  I’m serious, you see, like Van Gogh.  Did you know that he only sold three paintings in his lifetime?  But think how he’s affected the world.”

Jane:  “Wow, I didn’t know that!  But I guess it makes good sense.  So, what are you working on at the moment?”

~~~

That chat between Jane and Sarah, from grub street daily, is just one example of how a successful writer who has yet to publish can reshape the conversation about what they’re up to :-)

The article over on grub street is Pep Talk: Ways to Announce That You’re a Successful, Unpublished Writer (And Have The World Agree).

I encourage you to go read the whole article, especially if you’re a hard-working writer who has not yet published.

Actually, even if you are published, you’ll benefit from reading it, if only to share it with fellow writers who haven’t yet published.

One more excerpt I’ll share from the article is a list of LIES:

1. You’re only a successful writer if you’re published by paying markets, such as the magazines that you can buy in Barnes & Noble.

2. You’re only a successful writer if you’ve published a book-length work with a big publishing house.

3. It is hard to write a book, but if it is good, you’ll easily get it published and earn money from the royalties.

4. If you don’t publish a book, you can’t write very well and you’re certainly not a professional.

5. If you’re not earning large amounts of money, you’re not successful in terms of your career.

6. If you self-publish, it means you aren’t talented and/or professional.

You might also want to check out their other site Grub Street.org :-)

[EDIT]Please read the first Comment on this post by “Once”………
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