Optimistic Authorship

THE OPTIMISTIC AUTHOR

You can approach your writing with optimism or pessimism—your choice.

(Though complaints, worries, and frustrations may become more of a habit and less of a conscious decision.)

Optimism can be an asset to your authorship.

When you believe that your book will be successful, you are more likely to:

  • motivate yourself to work hard
  • stay focused while writing
  • do the necessary research
  • proofread carefully
  • put time and effort into cover design and formatting
  • put a small investment in cover design or editing
  • make a full effort to market your book
  • find a way to harness your creativity in your marketing

On the other hand, if you are pessimistic about the outcome of your book, you are less likely to put in the work needed to help make your book successful.

Thus, your outlook may pull a pivotal role in the success or failure of your book launch.

Once you start getting sales, if sales are slower than you expected, optimism can carry you through the slow times. If you are optimistic that you can improve your sales, you are more likely to try new marketing ideas and eventually discover strategies that work for you. You will be more likely to write additional books—and put the proper effort into those, too—if you remain optimistic that your writing will take off (and it sometimes takes multiple good books to gain traction). But if you are pessimistic, it’s easy to give up without really putting the effort into it.

The optimistic author will find the good in a bad review, while the pessimistic author will see something bad in a good review. The optimistic author appreciates the neutral review, whereas the pessimistic author is upset that it wasn’t a five-star review.

When a potential customer visits the optimistic author’s social media sites and blog, the customer has a positive experience.

When a potential customer sees complaints and frustration in the author’s social interactions, the customer is seeing publicized negativity.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2017

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Advertisements

One Muse Is not Enough

Muses

So you found a muse. Good for you.

She’ll help you string ideas together,

But one’s not enough. Sad, but true!

Writing’s not the only storm you’ll weather.

With the story, your muse is great,

But editing is a different beast.

Your muse won’t help; you’re filled with hate

‘Til a new muse makes this worry your least.

A poor cover won’t sell your book.

So next you must summon a design muse

To help achieve just the right look.

But you will still need yet another ruse.

Your story muse won’t craft your blurb;

This requires a muse of another kind.

So important to find the perfect verb.

Without this muse you’d be in a bad bind.

When you must design the book’s inside,

Not one of these muses will help. No fun!

Muse five joins the publishing ride.

Your book’s design’s now beautifully done.

Still nobody will read a word:

You lack the most important muse of all.

Marketing muse helps you get heard.

Without her help your sales would surely stall.

You’ve one more problem to solve yet.

It’s the toughest challenge that you will face:

All six muses play hard to get;

You can never find two in the same place.

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

Better

Better

The Good and the Bad

Better can be a great concept:

  • Trying to do better leads to improvement.
  • Not satisfied with how things are, it can be a great motivator.

Yet the concept of better does have drawbacks:

  • Other people may feel jealous of someone who seems to be better.
  • A feeling of superiority can lead to a variety of social consequences.

A Better Balance

The trick is to try to derive the benefits of the idea of doing better while avoiding the drawbacks.

I will apply this specifically to books and authors so that we have a concrete example in mind.

Striving to write a better book, focus on these positives:

  • Use this goal to motivate your writing.
  • Do research that will help with your book.
  • Seek feedback that may help you improve.
  • Think of how your book may benefit readers.
  • When dealing with criticism, remind yourself of the extra efforts that you made.

but avoid these negatives:

  • Feeling that your book is better than others. It probably is in some ways, but can’t be better in every way; so in some ways, it will be worse. Not every author has the same priorities: Maybe richer, more in-depth characterization appeals to you, and this makes your book better to readers who appreciate this, but it doesn’t make your book better to all readers. Maybe realism appeals to you, which makes your book better for readers who want that, but for those who want a fantastic world different from reality, it’s not better. Maybe your story is better, but the way the words are strung together isn’t. Different books are better for different readers. No book is best. Find one book that thousands love, and you’ll find that hundreds hate it.
  • Claiming that your book is better than another book. It may seem tempting to say, “If you liked ___, you’ll love ___,” but this can cause problems. First, this creates unrealistic expectations. Second, you don’t want to insult another book’s loyal fan base. It can be helpful to mention another book to give an idea of what to expect, but if you do this, do it in such a way that it in no conceivable way makes your book sound better than the other book.
  • Feeling that you’re a better author. Maybe you spent more time studying the craft of writing, but others may make up for this through life experience or imagination. Maybe you have done years of research, while others have a gift for knowing how to please an audience. You may be better in some ways, but you can’t be better in every way.

It is definitely worth trying to do better. This pursuit leads to better books, which creates more enjoyable reading experiences.

Trying to write a book that is better, in various ways, than other books you’ve read is good. Other readers are likely to appreciate this. But not all readers will agree.

Trying to improve over what you’ve seen other authors do, in various ways, is good. But you won’t be better in every way.

Comparing yourself to others can lead to jealousy, if other books seem to be selling better or receiving better reviews. Comparing yourself to others can lead to an air of superiority if your book seems to be above average. Either way, thee comparisons can create big problems.

There is one person you should compare yourself to. That’s you. Try to improve over your former self. That’s a noble ambition, it will make the world a better place, and you have no reason to feel jealous or superior when you’re comparing yourself to yourself.

About Me

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Great Time to Be a Muse

Muse

Are you looking for a job?

Competing against the mob?

It’s a great time to be a muse.

You’re sure to be put to good use.

Writers everywhere need you.

On their knees and begging, too.

Please, oh please, tell me what to write.

I promise to stay up all night.

The job comes with some great perks.

It’s fine if you have some quirks.

You can come and go as you please.

Redo it from scratch. Be a tease.

You’ll be free and won’t need tools.

There are just two simple rules.

The first rule is you must inspire.

Next, don’t let the writer retire.

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

to Write is to Serve

Serve

Authors write books. A book is a product.

But authorship entails more than just making a product. Authorship is a service.

Ultimately, writers want their work to be read, and therefore they serve an audience. Please the audience and gain more readers.

The first step is for the content to please the audience, but it goes well beyond that.

Readings, signings, and other events allow authors to engage the audience in person.

Authors engage with fans online through fan clubs, blogs, and social media.

And let’s not forget one major service that most authors provide: marketing. Many writers spend several hours per week helping readers from the target audience find their books. This is a concerted effort that the author makes to help readers become interested in books that may be a good fit for them, but which they may have otherwise not discovered.

Feedback leads to yet another service: revisions. With the technology of e-books and print-on-demand, a book has become a dynamic product that can be updated anytime. It’s not just to correct issues, but in nonfiction is vital for keeping content up-to-date.

Our aim is to please readers. That’s why we sit at the keyboard typing for several hours per week for months or years. It’s why we revise, edit, and format. It’s why we try to find a cover and craft a blurb that will help the target audience find the right book for them. It’s our motivation to market our books. To serve our readers.

Good evening, Mr. or Mrs. Reader. Thank you for stopping by. We hope you’re having a wonderful time.

We’re at your service. Let us know if you need anything.

— authors everywhere

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Writers

Heart Book

It’s a great time to celebrate the love of writing.

  • Writing will always be there for you.
    • Except when you experience writer’s block.
  • You don’t have to try to figure out your writing relationship.
    • You’ll never understand your muse, so don’t bother.
  • The passion you put into writing will never be rejected.
    • But you might receive some criticism from readers.
  • No commitments will stress you out over your writing relationship.
    • Unless you’re presented with a contract to mull over.
  • The reason you can’t stop writing is that Cupid shot an arrow into your rear.
    • Fortunately, it doesn’t prevent you from sitting several hours a day at your desk.

Happy Valentine’s Day, writers!

This day’s for you. 🙂

Set a candlelight dinner for you and your special laptop, and enjoy.

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Authorpreneur vs. Writing Artist

Authorpreneur

Authorpreneur

All authors—indie and traditionally published—are being labeled with this new term, authorpreneur.

This is easier to see for the indie author, who must not only write the book, but must also arrange the editing, formatting, cover design, publishing, and marketing. However, the term also applies to traditionally published authors, who write query letters and book proposals, still need to market their books, and have a better chance of getting published if they tailor the book to the needs of an audience.

There is a growing perception that an author must write and function like a businessperson in order to succeed as a writer. Publishers are in the business of writing: They want ideas that will sell. Even the indie author may perceive writing as a business, feeling that’s what it takes to sell books.

Writing Artist

Let’s look at the other extreme—the author who writes passionately without regard for sales. In the utter extreme, the author doesn’t write for an audience, but for his or her own reasons. This author is driven by passion, not business. Getting the book right, carrying out the author’s vision… this author cares for this more than sales. Yes, this author would like to share his or her passion. This author won’t give the book away for free because he or she wants the work to be valued, yet this author is driven by the art of writing, not the royalties.

Which Are You?

Most authors probably aren’t extreme authorpreneurs—focused solely on business—or extreme writing artists—completely disregarding the business aspect. You might feel like you fall somewhere in between, and presently you’re trying to gauge which way you lean and how far.

Would you like to write as a businessperson or as a writing artist?

Most authors feel that they must do one of the following:

  • Sell out, so to speak, writing for business rather than pleasure.
  • Write as an artist and then publish and market as a businessperson, sort of combining the two aspects.
  • Write purely for pleasure; don’t worry about the business side at all.

However, there is another important option that most authors don’t consider.

The Art of Success

You don’t have to turn your art into a business. Instead, you can turn the business into an art.

Here’s what I mean: View marketing not as a business strategy, but as a means of sharing your passion with others. Put your imagination into it and carry out your marketing as an artist. Just like you write with passion as an artist, find a way to feel like an artist when you market your work and become passionate about marketing as a way to share your writing with readers.

It’s a matter of perspective. Consider the following definitions.

Perspective

book

  • business: a product designed to create profit.
  • art: ideas fueled by passion and crafted by a wordsmith.

cover design

  • business: a tool that helps direct traffic to your book’s product page.
  • art: a reflection of your work that helps readers find what you so passionately wrote.

editing

  • business: reshaping an idea to sell better.
  • art: perfecting the art and craftsmanship to get it right.

formatting

  • business: improving the design of a book to attract more customers.
  • art: visually complementing the beauty of the writing.

marketing

  • business: strategies for delivering the product to the target audience.
  • art: motivating yourself to share your passionate creation with others.

Readers, too

As a reader, would you rather read a book that was written for an audience and designed to sell or would you rather read a book that was fueled by passion and shared passionately?

Of course, the question is never put like this. However, as a reader you do buy books. When you buy books that were written and published under a business model, you support the perception that writing should be a business. When you buy books that were written by artists and craftsmen, you support the perception that writing should be an art or craft.

The choice is yours. Each purchase counts as a vote.

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

You Might Be a Writer if…

Qwerty

You might be a writer if…

  1. Some of your best ideas were originally written on napkins, Kleenex, or toilet paper.
  2. You wake up at three in the morning and sneak out of bed to spend a couple of hours alone with your computer.
  3. When people act like jerks, you appear to handle it maturely, then secretly fashion characters after them to exact your revenge.
  4. You pull over to the side of the road a few times each week to jot down ideas for your book.
  5. A family member interrupts your work to ask you a simple question and you turn into a screaming lunatic.
  6. The most fulfilling conversations you have are between you and your imaginary muse.
  7. When your lucky underwear really stinks, friends know you’ve been fortunate not to get any bad reviews for several weeks.
  8. You log into your publishing account while you’re eating lunch to check on your royalties.
  9. In the middle of the night, you wake up sweating with an irrational fear that some discovered your secret pen name.
  10. You routinely turn down invitations to parties in favor of working on your book.

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

Self-Publishing Experiments

Experiment

With millions of books to choose from, why would anyone choose to buy an experiment?

If the author treats a book like it’s an experiment, the quality of the content, packaging, and marketing will reflect this. Customers will see it.

  • It’s not worth putting a fantastic cover on a book that’s an experiment.
  • It’s not worth perfecting the editing or formatting for an experiment.
  • It’s not worth crafting a most wonderful story for an experiment.
  • It’s not worth marketing an experiment.
  • The author won’t be confident in or passionate about an experiment.

So why bother making an experiment?

If you just want to know if your writing appeals to others, simply share drafts of it or join writing groups.

It’s not Necessary to Experiment First!

Why not? Because there are already millions of books on the market. Researching those, especially successful indie books, will prove far more valuable than any experiment you might do yourself.

  • Sales ranks and reviews can help you gauge which kinds of books are or aren’t popular.
  • Repeated comments in a subgenre can help you learn specific things that many readers do or don’t like.
  • Writing samples in the Look Insides can help you see what kind of writing appeals to readers.
  • Covers of bestselling indie books can help you learn how to attract your target audience and signify your subgenre.
  • Look Insides of bestselling traditionally published books can show you what a nicely formatted book should look like.
  • Product pages of bestsellers can show you how to make the most of your book’s detail page.
  • Author pages and websites of top indie authors can show you a variety of marketing possibilities.
  • A ton of free and low-cost publishing and marketing resources can help you perfect your book.

Study books that have succeeded. That’s experimental data that you have right at your fingertips.

It’s a Mistake to Experiment First!

Why? Because your first impression is very important. A big part of marketing is the author’s brand. It takes time to build credibility as an author.

If your first effort is an experiment, many shoppers who come across your book and were interested in it may remember your book or name in the future. The next time they see one of your books, even though it may be much better, they may pass on it simply from their first experience.

Success in the publishing business is difficult to come by, so start out by putting your best foot forward.

About My Blog

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Riddle: What Does Every Writer Need to Succeed?

Question

It’s not a pen because you could use a pencil or a computer.

It’s not a medium on which to write because the writing could simply exist in a bard’s mind.

It’s not a brain because that doesn’t distinguish a writer from any other art form.

It’s not lucky underwear because this job is clothing-optional.

It’s not a dictionary or thesaurus; although these come in handy, they aren’t always needed.

It’s not an audience because it is possible to define a new genre and gather a new audience.

It’s not money, as a writer can start out empty-handed and become successful.

It’s not writing instruction; while it does help to be well-versed, it is possible to become fluent through avid reading, for example.

It’s not praise, since although most writers would like it, the road to success is often paved with much criticism.

It’s not criticism because it’s already spurious and not everyone benefits from it.

It’s not an agent or great connection, which may help, as some writers have succeeded without this.

It’s not research, though it can be a big asset, since it can be compensated or trumped by a huge imagination.

It’s not imagination because many writers succeed with small changes to what’s already out there.

It’s not a pet squirrel, yet it’s highly recommended.

It’s simpler than all that, and everyone can have it. It’s passion.

Writing without passion. Is it worth reading? Was it worth writing?

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen