(This post is the second of three in a special series for aspiring authors)
Most aspiring authors that I meet either tell me they don't have enough time or they don't know where to start. My post last week addressed time and next week I'll address getting started. But this post addresses another common remark that I hear, "I'm scared."
Scared that no one will like it, no one will read it, or it won't make sense. I felt that exact same way before I made the decision to share my work. If I'm being honest, sometimes I still feel that way. But one thing I've learned is that once you put it out there, your audience will come (provided they know it exists, lol! But more on that next week!) For now let's focus on overcoming these self imposed barriers:
1. Fear- Fear is a very strong emotion because you're going up against the unknown. You're putting yourself out there without control over the outcome. But fear will also keep you paralyzed and you'll look around and five, ten or twenty years will pass and you will still be saying, "I always wanted to write a book." So my suggestion is to go for it. Get those ideas, words, phrases and thoughts out of your head and go for it! One thing that I did was to start writing on platforms like Wattpad under a pseudonym, that way no one knew it was me. I got such an amazing response from strangers who had connected with my writing, it gave me the courage to share it under my real name with people I actually knew and it's been an incredible experience.
2. Procrastination- Writing is an escape. Writing is cathartic. Writing is fun. But writing can also be hard work. Sometimes the task of writing can be daunting and because you don't know where to start or how to finish or what to say, you put it off and you don't write at all. You start making excuses or you stop making writing a priority. Meanwhile time is passing and that book isn't getting written. YOU HAVE TO MAKE WRITING A PRIORITY. YOU HAVE TO WRITE EVEN WHEN IT'S HARD. Dedication and self motivation are the only way you will have a shot at that New York Times Bestseller list. To avoid developing a pattern of procrastination, set a daily goal of writing for a minimum of fifteen minutes or set a goal of writing 700-1000 words a day and maybe it won't feel like such a chore.
3. Knowledge- This is one of the biggest issues writers face. When I say knowledge, I'm referring to basic grammar knowledge. Grammar is a learned skill. And it's not easy to remember all the rules regarding sentence structure, voice and tense to name a few. However if you are going to be a writer- you MUST have knowledge of basic grammar. Knowing when to use there, their or they're is a simple thing that can destroy your writing if you do not know how/when to use the proper homophone. Even if you use an editor (which you definitely should), I still recommend buying a reference book or at least turning to Google when you are unsure.
What are some barriers you face when trying to write?
As a first time published author who chose the self publishing route, I did a TON of research before hand. I have a notebook filled with ideas, tips, advice, links, strategies, etc. all related to writing and publishing.
I would recommend anyone who is considering self publishing their own work do the same. You want to make sure you have all of your proverbial ducks in a row. Make sure your work has been edited, the interior layout and cover are appealing and marketable, you find channels to help get the word out about your book and be sure to ask for feedback namely by way of Amazon reviews.
I will have a webinar available online at the end of the summer discussing my self publishing journey and sharing all the resources I utilized but for now I decided to share a few of my favorites:
1. Createspace- This is the tool/distributor I used to self publish my book. It's free to sign up! You can get your ISBN through Createspace as well as have the option to sell your books on Amazon. Createspace also has templates to help you format the interior of your book as well as design your cover.
2. Grammarly- This a great tool for checking tense and placement of commas. It's free and you can copy and paste passages of text directly on to the website for instant help! Grammarly should not be a replacement for a good editor. You still need to have a professional review your final draft for errors that go beyond grammar like pacing, plot holes, etc.
3. Evernote- This is not your average note taker. . .with this app, you can set up different notebooks for each story to make notes and outlines. You can also add images for inspiration and one of my fave things you can do is dictation. If you have an idea or want to record dialogue without having to type all of it, just press the microphone icon and tell Evernote what you want to write. You can email the notes to yourself and just cut and paste them directly into your novel.
I've blogged about the pros and cons of social media before but this post focuses more on the problems with social media.
If you are a brand, social media has to be a part of your marketing strategy. It's the world we live in. But there can be some challenges with relying solely on social media:
1. You must select the right platform. All social media platforms are not created equal. You do not have to be on EVERY platform. Select the platform that will reach your desired target audience and focus on engaging and building a community within that platform.
2. There is a lot of noise and distraction. One of the downfalls of using social media for marketing and promotion is that you get sucked into the never ending social media vortex. You can waste valuable time on social media platforms just looking through posts for inspiration and end up totally off track and forgetting why you logged on in the first place.
3. It is TIME CONSUMING. Noise and distractions aside, it takes time to build a following on social media and post relevant content. This time takes you away from perfecting your product or service. Even with tools like Hootsuite where you can schedule posts, you still have to engage with your followers and you can end up in that vortex I spoke of.
4. It is such a quid pro quo environment. Most people only follow you if you follow them back and while this helps your numbers it doesn't always help your engagement or your sales. I would rather have 100 people who are really interested in what I have to offer than 1,000 people who never like, comment or subscribe!
5. Everybody is a critic! If you have thin skin, social media is NOT for you. No matter how much you lament over a post or try to perfect an entry there will be someone who catches that you placed a comma in the wrong place or they will fact check you. Or worse they will offer up nothing constructive and just complain that they don't like your post (or you). This can take away from your message and cause people to question your credibility,
To minimize these issues you just need to determine what platform will work best for you, post consistently and work on delivering quality content.
As a freelance graphic designer I will tell you the secret to the success I've had so far: REPEAT BUSINESS AND REFERRALS.
Plain and simple.
I have been freelancing for almost three years and have not really spent money on marketing or even investing in much promotion because I have been blessed to get a steady flow of clients or at least enough to even call myself a designer.
Every project (with the exception of two) have been referrals and repeat business. I did a good job for someone and they told a friend or family member who called me. Or I did a good job for someone and the next time they had a project, they called me. I'm humbled by it and I really appreciate the business. For me it boils down to these simple principles when approaching a project for a client.
1. I put myself in their shoes. (How would I want someone to treat me. I'm patient, I listen and I offer solutions.)
2. I charge a fair and reasonable price. (I make money by offering discounts which leads to additional work. I once did a logo, stationery, business cards, flyers, and postcards for someone who initially only wanted a logo.)
3. I collaborate every step of the way. (Feedback is critical. It's THEIR brand!)
4. I guarantee their satisfaction. (The project isn't done until they like it and start using it.)
5. I keep in touch. (6 months later: How's that site/design working for you?)
In other words, I treat my clients as people, colleagues and some have even become friends. I look at the people and project first and the money always follows.
Social media is, my opinion, one of the best and worst things created this century yet it has become a necessary tool for every entrepreneur. However it can be a distracting, time consuming, productivity thief!
I dare anyone to tell me that they haven't gone on Instagram or Facebook with the intention of posting something or checking in and an hour (or two) later you're pages deep into an abyss of status updates! And don't get me started on the latest blogger/entrepreneur obsession: PERISCOPE!
We tell ourselves that it's not a waste of time because we're gathering all of this information to actually help our businesses grow but guess what. . . .at the rate you're going you'll never have time to implement all these tips or research the countless resources being shared. Why? Because you're watching Scopes all day or on Facebook forums getting said information! It's truly a vicious cycle!
I've started a social media regime that has really been beneficial to me with regards to productivity:
1. Schedule. Schedule. Schedule.- This one is the oldest trick in the book but I swear by it. I schedule Facebook posts and blog posts everyday (or every other day) this is a big time saver. I actually schedule my Facebook posts directly from the Facebook Pages app. I typically do all my scheduling for the week on Sunday evening.
2. 3, 5, 7 Rule- I use this when scrolling through social media. I scroll through at least 7 posts on my feeds, like at least 5 and comment on at least 3. If there is something that really catches my eye I might adjust these numbers. I usually do this during lunch, or while waiting in line somewhere, or at the doctors office etc. I also try and do it a couple of times a day, so I don't miss too much but once I hit my quota, I log out.
3. Team #IDontFollowBackEverybody- I'm sorry but I just cannot do this. You miss out on notifications from people you really want to connect with or events you really want to know about when you're following 1,000 people!
4. Screenshot for Later- If I see an event or website or quote or book I want to read, I screenshot it on my phone for later. This works for me because I take a lot of pictures and I'm constantly being warned about space on my phone, so I have no choice but to go in and transfer those screenshots to my Evernote resources list or bookmark the websites.
What are some of your tried and true social media tips?
Writer. Reader. Designer. Creative Spirit.
“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”