Welcome to an entire month of Top 5 Tips for Authors!
Every day this month my friends and I will bring you a new set of Top 5 Tips to help you along on your author journey. 2017 was a year of change in the Indie author world for sure. So many happenings. So many new things to learn. So many old things that didn’t quite do what you’d hoped. Well, every day is a new day. And every year is a new year. So we hope that this month’s worth of tips will get you the kick start you need to make 2018 your best yet and please feel free to ask questions and leave comments.
My first guest blogger is my friend Vivian Arend. She’s the New York Times bestselling author of 50+ contemporary and paranormal titles and has been both self published and traditionally published. (8+ publishers). She’s been nominated for a RITA, published for eight years, and has sold over 2.5 million books. Her bestselling series are the Six Pack Ranch and Granite Lake Wolves. You can find her books here.
Hey. You ready for this? The 30 days of incredible advice aimed your way? This month could change your life. Or…not.
Because chances are, you’re not ready for December 2 yet.
Let’s back up one step— Who am I? I’m Vivian Arend. I’m a writer of contemporary and paranormal romance. I’ve written a few books (50+). Hit a few lists and been nominated for a few writer-type awards. But mostly, I’m a storyteller with wander-lust who likes to feed my habit. And writing lets me do that because writing pays our bills.
Writing also makes me incredibly happy. It’s a creative endeavour where I get to stretch my brain and learn new skills all the time, and those things are important to me. I can do anything I have to for a short period of time, but long term? I need to have a good time while I work my ass off.
Now, let’s talk about you.
By the time the month is done you’ll have been blasted by a thousand great ideas and have a list 5 pages long of all the thing you want to do…and you’ll be excited and overwhelmed.
Don’t do that. Don’t start by scrambling like Bilbo taking off on his journey without a spare handkerchief. Start the journey like an experienced traveler.
-Know where you’re going.
-Know why you’re going there.
Because while all the ideas coming your way will be amazing, and great, and work—they might not be right for you. An amazing, wonderful bit of information that’s perfect, can be wrong to follow. Also, every YES you say is one more thing you must say NO to. Unless you’ve jumped Hermione and duplicated her time twister, you’ve got 24 hours x 7 days x 52 weeks to play with.
I’m not going to talk about the whole ‘how to set SMART goals’ business and how you should do that first. (Although you totally should. SMART is a smart thing. Google it. Do it. Write down your freaking goals and put them where you can see them!)
What I want to tell you are the bits that keep saving my sanity as it relates to publishing which is changing at the speed of light yet stays as unchangeable as a petrified lump.
- Pick your own damn dream to follow.
Do you know why you’re doing this? Is it for fun? A hobby? Are you the only one paying the bills in your family? Your motivation is going to give you the energy to accomplish big things. It’ll give you the wisdom to set goals that fit like a shoe you can wear for a long journey.
When I started out I was told by a mentor that right then, backlist was king (it was)—daunting information for a newbie with one book. My overall goal was to match my hubby’s income so I could get him home. I needed to boogie, so I did. I wrote like crazy for years to reach my goal.
All those ideas about to come your way? Write down the ones that catch your interest. The ones that make you go “D’uh, of COURSE, I need to…” Later, really analyse the idea to decide if it’s a path to reach YOUR goal.
Finally, face the truth: aiming at some goals mean you’re not aiming at others. Rare unicorns get $$, fame, awards, and universal adoration with one shot. Reach for goals that fit feels and happily reap the rewards.
What’s in your control? You might not be able to control if Hollywood calls you up with an offer to turn your book into a movie, but there are things you CAN control to aim at that goal. But if a movie isn’t your goal, don’t waste your energy shooting at it. Pick a different target.
- Set goals that fit your stage of the game.
If you’ve got a sick kid who needs you, there’s no use setting a goal to do sprints all day long. If you have a long commute on a bus, you won’t be dictating on the way to work, but you might write on your phone. If the only time you have to write is early in the morning or after the kids go to bed, that’s what you have to work with.
But let’s be honest. It’s easy to waste time on things that mean nothing. Don’t get caught up in the tide and then complain you don’t have time. Kill the time-stealers and get your shit done. If your goals say you need 2K words a day this week, stopping glomming Netflix and get the work done!
Some goals will require you to hustle. Some require you to learn new skills. Some can only arrive after you reach a bunch of smaller destinations. How much time and energy do you have right now? Work with it!
- Do stuff that makes you happy.
That list you’ll be making. If you succeed in picking only the ones that fit YOUR goals and your time frames, you could still end up with twenty+ things to do. It’s possible to be successful by doing the ones you enjoy. Oh, it’s still hard work, but I have a lot of fun along the way. Example? I’m not a Facebook gal. I still manage to connect with MY readership by doing other things really, really well.
That doesn’t mean I don’t ever do things I don’t like. But my to-do lists never include 7/10 things I don’t like. More like 3/10. A little bit of icky goes a long way.
- Have a loud cheering voice and real sticky shoes.
Cheer for others as they accomplish their amazing goals, but keep your eyes on your target. When new ideas appear, test it against your goals and time/space available. Remember I told you my first goal was to get my hubby home? Five years later, my new goals don’t require me to write nearly as much, which means I have less releases, which means my earnings are down. I’m not a failure because of this. I’m following new goals. Less releases, less work, more travel.
Which means I cheer on my prolific friends, or the ones signing with New York, or the ones writing movie scripts, or…[insert their goals]…and refuse to feel like a loser for not joining them. They’re chasing their goals. I need to chase mine.
Don’t just celebrate the big milestones with your friends, celebrate every step of the journey, because even when it’s fun, we’re working hard. Finish a first draft? Celebrate. Craft an awesome ad? Do up promo plans for an entire month to make it your best ever? Celebrate. Text a friend who will cheer with you. Don’t just cross the task off the to-do list then dive into the next item. (But definitely do cross them off, because that’s why we make to-do lists in the first place! To put a thick line through each task! 😉 )
- Here’s the only rule you have to follow: don’t mess with your health.
Burnout is real. Writer’s ass is real. Work smart while you work hard. Take stretch breaks, go for walks, talk to others about what they do outside of writing time to stoke creativity and replenish their tanks. Because you are about to get a ton of great ideas tossed your way.
Use them to reach your goals, but work to stay healthy so you can enjoy the rewards.