The Writer’s Enemy

Authors share a common enemy.

This evil entity can affect every aspect of a book, from the writing to the marketing.

It starts out as just a tiny presence, seemingly innocuous.

Then it grows gradually.

Before the writer realizes it, this enemy becomes ominous.

It creates delays in the writing… hinders investment in cover design and editing… and destroys marketing effectiveness.

What is this evil monster?

It’s doubt.

When you doubt that readers will enjoy the story, it’s really hard to finish it… to put a full effort into it… to edit it well… to invest in a nice cover… to market the book diligently.

When you doubt your ability to market the book, you inhibit your own marketing efforts. Your lack of confidence shows through, creating doubt in the buyer’s mind. If you don’t believe in your book, why should customers?

Believe in your book to keep yourself motivated. Motivated to write, and motivated to market.

Become confident in your ability to write and market. Let your confidence show through. Let your passion for your writing show through in your marketing.

But don’t overdo it. Overconfidence can be a sales killer, and can make it difficult to handle criticism.

A little doubt can serve a useful purpose. But balance it with confidence so it doesn’t grow.

A little doubt can make you research the idea to see if it’s worth pursuing. A little doubt can make you consider an alternative. Make an informed decision and then be confident with it. A little doubt can make you edit yet again. A little doubt can make you compare your cover to those of top sellers. A little doubt can make you research other marketing ideas, just in case there is something better that you might be doing.

If you need to become more confident, you can try to build confidence in steps. A little feedback can help. Start with people who are likely to be supportive, and whose advice is likely to be helpful. Widen your audience, in steps, until you gain the confidence you need. Learn how to deal with criticism. Take a break after you receive it. Consider it another day. If it has merit and is something you are willing to do, implement it; if not, let it go. Be confident with your decision.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

Authors: How about a Mission Statement?

Mission Statement Pic

Companies have mission statements. It’s a short paragraph that says what the company is all about.

Writing is a business. Even if you write for the love of writing, as most writers do, selling books is still a business activity.

So should an author have a mission statement?

Here are a few possible benefits:

  • Seeing and reading it every once in a while can help you focus on your main goals. What really drives you to write? It can help keep you from losing sight of this.
  • You can use it as a motivator. A few aspects of the writing business can occasionally discourage an author. When you’re feeling down, read your mission statement to remind yourself of some pros that may outweigh any cons.
  • Show that you’re human. Fans and potential customers who see your mission statement might notice your passion for what you do – i.e. it’s not about the money. They might see what really drives you.

Search for mission statements that companies write to get a feel for what a mission statement looks like and to help generate some ideas. Obviously, don’t plagiarize their mission statements; write your own statement in your own unique words. Just browse their mission statements to see some options and to get a feel for it.

Think about what really drives you to write. What are you really striving to accomplish through your writing?

What do you do with your mission statement after you write one?

  • At the very least, keep it handy – someplace where you will see it occasionally to remind yourself what your writing is all about.
  • You could add it to your website(s).
  • Should you include it in your books? You can. You could put it in your copyright page, about the author page, or anywhere else – it’s your book. Realize that including the words “Mission Statement” is optional. You probably don’t see mission statements explicitly declared in books unless the publisher chooses to include it somewhere. However, there are many authors or publishers who somewhere in the front or back matter do make some note that could very well be part of a mission statement.

If you publish with your own imprint, so that you look like a real publisher, then you can include a mission statement for the publisher – instead of the author.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)