January 5, 2020-So, you want to be a best-selling author…well, start acting like it. What do I mean? I mean start acting like a best-selling author would! How would you dress? What is your routine? Persona? Work habits? Are you confident? What does your self-discipline look like? What is your social media like? How do you interact with readers? What continuing education do you have? Are you continuing to hone your craft?
We can never become what we set out to be without first becoming that way in our minds. Mindset comes first which will lead to inspired action, which leads to putting in the work, which leads to eventual success if you repeat this process over and over for years. Success is never overnight and success rarely happens to those who have a negative inner voice. We all have an inner critic, but it’s what we do about it that makes a difference. Don’t listen to the voice in your head that tells you lies! You can be, do, and have anything you want if you’re willing to do what it takes to get there. Let’s look at some of my favourite, best-selling authors and see what they’ve done to accomplish this feat:
Stephen King-Key trait: Discipline. According to reports, the King writes 10 pages EVERY SINGLE DAY, Christmas included. His manuscript for Carrie was rejected 30 times, but he kept writing. King rarely misses a day of writing and has written MORE than THIRTY (30) best-sellers and is considered one of the most influential writers of the past four decades.
Louisa May Alcott-Key trait: Tenacity. ‘Stick to your teaching, Miss Alcott. You can’t write.’ Those were the words of one publisher who passed over the manuscript for Little Women. Thankfully, she ignored his advice and the book went on to be well received with one reviewer stating it was ‘the very best of books to reach the hearts of the young of any age from six to sixty’. It is still a classic 150 years later and a number 1 best seller.
Beatrix Potter-Key trait: Self-Belief. Initially, she attempted to go the traditional route and sent the book to six publishers, each of whom rejected it because Potter was insistent that the book be small enough for a child to hold while the publishers wanted something bigger (so that they could charge more money for it). It wasn’t a compromise that Beatrix was willing to make, so she took the matter into her own hands. On December 16, 1901, a 35-year-old Potter used her personal savings to privately print 250 copies of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The book turned out to be a hit—so much so that, within a year, one of the publishers that had originally rejected the book, signed on to get into the Peter Rabbit business. In October 1902, they published their own version of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, complete with Potter’s illustrations, and by Christmas, it had sold 20,000 copies. It has since been translated into nearly 40 different languages and sold more than 45 million copies.
November 4, 2020-Quick! Which authors do you admire and why? I’m here to let you in on a little secret. The authors you chose aren’t special; they’re just like us. If they can do it, so can you! There are things that best selling authors have in common! Let me prove it to you; here’s what you need to succeed.
Tenacity-An unwillingness to give up or give in. If Stephen King’s wife hadn’t urged him to pull his manuscript out of the garbage, we would have no Carrie, and Mr. King still might be a janitor. His manuscript for Carrie was rejected 30 times! Be unwilling to give up. People will tell you “no” a thousand times..but that just gets you closer to “yes.”
A platform-It’s essential today to have a platform on social media to connect with your readers. The most successful authors interact with people and post things that readers want to know about, such as writing tips, advice, interviews, and excerpts from your books.
A great story-No; I’m not just talking about the story in your book. I’m talking about the story of you. How you became an author, how you overcame challenges and obstacles, and how you eventually succeeded. People don’t buy your books. They buy YOU.
Passion-If you’re not passionate about your work, how can anyone else be? Love what you do because you won’t stick with it on the bad days if you don’t. It’s what gets you excited and out of bed in the morning, and successful authors are passionate about their books and sharing them with others.
Dedication-Successful, best-selling authors are dedicated to their craft. Writing is their job, and they treat it as such. Dedication beats talent when talent doesn’t work. Read that sentence again.
You can achieve your dreams. Believe in yourself, get to work, and refuse to give up.
April 15, 2020– Many very famous (and not so famous) authors (including yours truly) use pseudonyms. Let’s find out who they are and why they use fake names to write under. Pseudo=Phoney, artificial, not genuine Nym=Name.
To write more than 1 book per year. Stephen King used a pseudonym so that he could write multiple books a year. One book per year is the industry standard in publishing, but he found a way to get around the issue by simply changing his name. You wouldn’t want to do this too often because you need to build a following of loyal readers, and that takes time and effort.
To switch genres-I personally do this to protect my young readers from Googling my darker works. Lacey L. Bakker is the name I use for writing kids’ books, and L.L. Colling is the pen name I use to write my adult thrillers. If my young readers do an online search, they won’t find my adults-only books.
To take the pressure off– J.K. Rowling is a perfect example of this. She wanted to write without the pressure and the hype of Harry Potter, so she changed her name and wrote The Cuckoo’s Calling.
To switch publishers-The truth is that publishers own your works and the name that you put on that work. If you change publishers, you’ll have to use a different name, especially if you’re still under contract with the original publisher you’ve signed with.
I’m going to caution you on one thing; if you write a book that has sensitive information in it and you think that by changing your name, you’ll be able to write anonymously, that is not the case. Eventually, something will lead back to you, and you’ll be found out. Also, what if your book really takes off and people want to meet you in person for interviews and book signings? Choose your name wisely! X LLB
April 13, 2020– We know that every story must have conflict and resolution, but did you know that there are six different types of story conflict? Let’s explore:
Person vs. Person– This is the most common type of conflict in novels. It is the protagonist vs. antagonist (hero vs. villain). A good example of this type of conflict is…well…take any Disney movie; Gaston vs. the Beast, Ariel vs. Ursula, Mulan vs. the Huns and so on. There are too many examples to list of this kind of conflict!
Person vs. Nature– This means conflict between characters and environment such as natural disasters etc. Some perfect examples of this type of conflict are the books/movies Twister or Dante’s Peak.
Person vs. Self- I like to think that my novel Becoming James Cass (coming soon from Pandamonium Publishing House) is an excellent example of the conflict between the main character and himself. He’s always struggling to fight off his demons and has a ton of inner-conflict and self-destructiveness.
Person vs. Society– The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is an excellent example of this type of conflict. Struggles between individuals and the social codes in their world are what this type of conflict is all about.
Person vs. Supernatural– We’re talking about pretty much any book by Stephen King. Pet Sematary is one of my favourites, but so is It…these are excellent examples of conflict between characters and the supernatural/paranormal world.
Person vs. Technology–Machinia by Paul Moscarella (coming October 2020 from Pandamonium Publishing House) is an example of Protagonist vs. Technology. This is the conflict between character vs. scientific discovery. Also see, Terminator and Robocop for some other great examples.
What type of conflict does your novel have? Happy writing, X LLB
December 17, 2018– You’ve seen it on bookshelves across the country; James Patterson and Bill Clinton, Stephen and Owen King, and soon enough, yours truly with an author I have yet to introduce you to. (I’ll talk about this next year because I know how you guys love waiting for surprises;)
Co-authoring is on the rise so let’s talk about how to do it right because there is a whole pile of ways to do it wrong! Here are some ways to destroy your chances of collaborating successfully and how to ruin your working relationship with the author you’ve chosen to pair up with.
Moving too fast. Writing with someone is essentially like getting married; it’s a terrible idea to get engaged on the first date and let’s face it, people who do this aren’t likely to last. Same goes for collaborating with another author; read their stuff, get to know their style and strengths, and allow them the time to do the same for you. Also, be sure to decide if the person you want to work with is a good fit for your personality; you guys will be spending a lot of time together and the last thing you need are major personality clashes. That won’t work for anyone.
Not planning. Planning is quite literally the thing that either supports or inhibits your success while writing with someone else. If you don’t have a plan, you’re screwed. I’m a massive fan of outlines, and I use them always, that’s why I recommend 3 frameworks when collaborating: A) General outline of the book from start to finish, B) An overview of what author number 1 is working on C) An overview for what author number 2 is working on. Your outlines should include deadlines because if they don’t, what’s the point? We both know it will never get finished. This outline had better include what the marketing expectations are for both parties once the book is published or you’re going to have a killer headache sorting things out at the end of it!
Lack of communication. Not clearly defining the expectation of both parties is a recipe for setting yourself on fire. You don’t want to burn, and you don’t want the other person to burn either, you guys are a team; decide how often you’re going to communicate and how the communication will be sent. Also, make perfectly clear who is responsible for what. Communication is key, and if you can’t communicate properly with the person you’re going to collaborate with, how the hell are you going to co-author with them?
No Genre. For the millionth time, you can’t hit a target you can’t see. If you don’t know WHAT you’re writing, HOW are you supposed to write it and market it? You can’t. Pick a genre and stick to it. The writing marketplace is structured by genre; where will you put your book on the shelf when it is finally finished if you don’t know which genre it falls into? Your book isn’t for everyone, and if it is, your book is for no one.
Collaborations on any type of work can be risky, but that shouldn’t deter you from creating fabulous art with your fellow writers. Just make sure you follow the above tips and work with someone who is as awesome as you are!
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