Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Categorized: Success

what is a platform, how do we build an author platform, Facebook privacy violations, Cambridge Analytica, social media censorship, Facebook facing congress, social media and privacy violations, branding tips

A platform offers major advantage when it comes to selling books. Before social media, non-fiction authors had an edge. These authors already had an existing audience by the time their books were ready for sale.

Novelists, conversely, found themselves relying on a lot of pure luck, prayer, and alignment of the stars. The fiction author had little to no control regarding the business side of their business. The only way to build a platform was to not completely FAIL with book one.

Great.

Non-fiction authors, however, were not nearly as vulnerable because they had ways to cultivate a following ahead of time. Those ways also permitted them to KEEP growing the platform even bigger as they continued to publish more works.

For instance, if one happened to be an expert of some sort, it was far easier to build an audience interested in your topic. Therapists, psychiatrists, physicians, personal trainers, business owners, etc. obviously could begin with their ‘job’ (I.e. a private practice). Then these experts progressively expanded their platforms in a logical fashion.

They might broaden to speaking engagements, guest appearances on television and/or radio, serve as ‘experts’, and maybe even fold in lectures and seminars. With every expansion, the NF author added more numbers to their ‘platform.’

What IS a Platform?

what is a platform, how do we build an author platform, Facebook privacy violations, Cambridge Analytica, social media censorship, Facebook facing congress, social media and privacy violations, branding tips

When we think of a platform for the NF author, it’s simple. Dr. Jane is an expert pediatric psychiatrist with a thriving practice. She graduated from Super Fancy School. Dr. Jane has successfully treated X amount of children for social anxiety for fifteen years. You may have even seen Dr. Jane on daytime television or listened to her on NPR. Dr. Jane knows what she’s doing because look at her c.v.!

If we have a kid whose shyness is to the point of a neurosis, we (audience) feel confident Dr. Jane might have an answer. We buy her book(s).

For the NF writer, the platform is far more cut and dry. The point is to be an expert people trust to answer a question or solve a problem. If I want to learn how to start a business, cook French cuisine, lose twenty pounds, or train my cat to stop terrorizing my bed skirts, I look for an expert. Right? Thus the NF platform, in a nutshell, is measured by how many people trust you for information and guidance.

Again, What IS a Platform?

what is a platform, how do we build an author platform, Facebook privacy violations, Cambridge Analytica, social media censorship, Facebook facing congress, social media and privacy violations, branding tips

Right now I know a lot of you are scratching your heads (or panicking). Um, Kristen, I write paranormal. Am I supposed to be an expert in summoning demons?

No. First, because all writers know more than they want to about demons. They live in Windows 10 and Printer Possession is unusually common.

It’s why we creatives all marry or partner with ‘engineer’ personalities who seem to be able to coax possessed printers into cooperation. I no longer even try. My printer just shouts profanities at me, then uses up all the green and yellow ink so I’m rendered unable to print something in BLACK.

Squirrel…

I’ve seen many ‘experts’ answer this question, ‘What is a platform?’…badly. They’ll claim the novelist needs to blog (I agree) and become an expert in a topic (NO!).

To the first point, novelists are entertainers. Stories are RIGHT BRAIN. It makes no sense to sell a right brain product with a left-brain tool.

Blogging about writing, doing book reviews, conducting interviews is a useless time-suck. Yes, I blog about writing and social media because my audience is mostly writers. I’ve spent a decade demystifying the blog for the writer who’s solely an entertainer.

For the author who’s a pure storyteller, the blog is merely the watering hole where you can craft content appealing to your ‘tribe.’

If I write fantasy, then blogging on all things nerdy is a good idea. What are people who read fantasy interested in? CosPlay, ComicCon, Dr. Who, Dungeons and Dragons, etc. Talk about the same stuff you would with your other fantasy ‘geek’ friends.

That’s it. The platform then simply becomes the number of people who recognize your name and attach descriptors and emotional experiences to it (also known as a brand, which we discussed last time). If brand is what people know, then platform is how many people know 😉 .

what is a platform, how do we build an author platform, Facebook privacy violations, Cambridge Analytica, social media censorship, Facebook facing congress, social media and privacy violations, branding tips

Story Solutions

If our brand is our story (narrative) then platform is simply how many people have heard, know about, and follow our stories. How many people connect to us enough that they’d be likely to buy our books? In a world where consumers are drowning in choices, they’re gravitating more and more to people they know, like and trust.

Our goal is to gather as many of them into our virtual community as possible—platform. This way, once we DO have a book(s) for sale, other people KNOW about us and are vested in us.

Otherwise, we’ll have to pay for enough ad space to break through the din and that, my friends, is NOT cheap (and doesn’t work that great anyway).

For authors, the blog affords the most bang for the buck. First, writers write. It plays to our strengths. It trains self-discipline, which is essential for success. Blogging regularly makes us leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner writers.

We can cultivate our fan base before our first book is even finished because we’re posting merely to start a dialogue, create community, and chat about something we (and our audience) enjoys. Visitors aren’t feeling all weird that we’re only interested in trying to score a sale.

If we DO have a book for sale? It’s off in the side-bar. Followers can look…or not.

I wrote a post What Went Wrong With the Star Wars Prequels? seven years ago. People are still commenting. I get it. I am an ‘expert’ but I am also a free-range nerd. The brand is me—KRISTEN LAMB—and so I have flexibility to talk about other stuff, too. Topics I find fun. Like Star Trek, Wonder Woman, and Atomic Blonde.

Trust me. Nerds? We all feel very passionately about imaginary universes.

And like to argue about them.

A lot.

Just watch.

Loki is hotter than Thor *throws grenade and runs*

Posts that talk about what we enjoy are incredibly fun to write. It also takes pressure off us to sell, sell, sell. Engage, then go back to writing books. Our blog can be a fun place where people can join in on ENJOYABLE debates, discharge pent up psychic energy and have a good time.

Kidding! Cap is hottest *runs with glitter*

Using Time Wisely

what is a platform, how do we build an author platform, Facebook privacy violations, Cambridge Analytica, social media censorship, Facebook facing congress, social media and privacy violations, branding tips

No, you do not have to blog. No one is going to take you to writer jail if you don’t. Tricky thing is we still need a brand and a platform if we want to sell enough books to do this full-time.

I don’t know about y’all, but I prefer working smarter, not harder.

Yes, we can create this brand and platform on any social site, but the reason I remain steadfast in support of a blog is because of the following:

The blog is stable.

The blog has been around since the 1990s and was popular before Web 2.0 even existed. Short of the internet imploding, the blog will remain because it provides what humans have wanted since the dawn of time—information, entertainment, community.

In my opinion, the blog is an ideal way for writers to build a platform because it’s as stable as it gets on-line.

Stability is vastly important for any brand/platform, namely because we want to have control. It makes no sense to spend years building a massive following only for that entire following to one day vanish. I found this out the hard way by starting my blog on MySpace.

I lost a year of blogs and a large following (that took three years to build) when MySpace imploded almost overnight. After that experience, I vowed to never again be that vulnerable.

We control our domain.

If we build our entire platform on a social site, we are sitting ducks praying nothing will go wrong. Our author web site (blog) is very stable because we PAY for it. We own our content, our domain and possess a degree of immunity to outside shifts.

For instance, on a social site, some troll could gather all his/her troll friends and report us for nonsense just for the fun of being jerks. Our page is deleted and either we have to start over or pray whatever social site will let us have our stuff back.

Sometimes people are deleted without the social site even investigating whether the ‘complaints’ are valid or vicious harassment. It takes a lot of time, gray hair and hassle to get your stuff restored if this happens. Bad news is sometimes we lose and don’t get it back…ever. Trolls have a lot more power to do damage in places where we are not in charge.

Ugh, then Twitter. I have an author friend who recently lost SIX MILLION Twitter followers (built over the span of almost ten years) after Twitter changed their ToS. #OUCH

Don’t get me started on Goodreads.

When we are anyplace we do not control, trolls can say and do just about anything and we have no say about being abused.

Shifting trends.

Regardless how many fail-safes we put in place, it doesn’t matter. We could spend years building something HUGE….only for the social site to be sold, change the rules, change Terms of Service, or go cray-cray and finally piss off enough people that they begin to bail like rats off a sinking ship…and POOF.

GONE.

In light of Facebook’s grotesque privacy violations (the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Facebook’s botched plan to access confidential medical records), accusations of censorship, ‘news curation,’ and more, the social media behemoths are hemorrhaging users.

Nothing is ever too big to fail 😉 . In fact, I have been a social media expert so long I now believe I know how Plato felt writing The Republic.

*gets cramp feeling smart*

Cycle of Social Media Rule

Timocracy (Web 1.0) where only super wealthy could afford websites or computers to even look at websites.

Oligarchy—earlier social media where only those who could afford computers/internet could join chat rooms or social sites OR (currently) social sites where we might pay a fee to participate.

***On WANATribe (a Ning I built for writers), we meet every day M-S to sprint pretty much all day. I pay $70 a month of my own money to have a virtual workspace and a drama-free zone where I play benevolent dictator 😀 . There are no ads but that is because I fork out money to keep it that way. Book spammers (all spammers) are smited—smote? smoted?—without mercy. The point is someone is willing to put up CASH for the peace and quiet.

Democracy—FREE! Everyone can join! And do whatever they WANT TO DO! Want to automate 700 identities to post on the hour everywhere? GO FOR IT! You are free to do what YOU WANT, and mob rule is the only rule!

Oh, but remember the social site is free to do what they want to do, TOO! Free! Free to harvest our private information and sell to the highest bidder!

Eventually people (on both sides) go too far with their ‘freedoms’ and those participating need some sense of order and rules so they don’t lose their minds.

Rules start creeping in and the powers that be realize they DIG that kind of power and POOF–>Tyranny. The social site goes all nutso with power. Also, on the other side, jerks/trolls use ‘the rules’ as weapons to unleash mayhem on anyone unfortunate enough to cross them.

We (regular users) rise up against the social site bullying and revolt. Start a NEW site (a republic perhaps?) which won’t have ANY of those problems.

Yep.

Still waiting on the social media philosopher-poets to rule. Not holding breath, though.

Refuse to be an ad mule. Own your SPACE.

Any outside social network trades a FREE service then monetizes US. They use us for data mining, blast us with ads, make us pay to play (open up the algorithm so more than three people see our posts), and more.

FREE is never FREE.

Some social sites are paid to blast us with ads using our data. Conversely, creatives are being blatantly and unapologetically EXPLOITED. We are the ones creating the lure for the clicks that pay REAL MONEY…while we work for free.

Refer to my earlier posts about the exposure dollar grift and how places we can blog for exposure really are companies using us as a massive unpaid labor force. We generate all their content, content which cannibalizes our own SEO and brand. Meanwhile those in power make hundreds of millions…then write books about how money isn’t important.

Either way, whether we are using a social site or creating content for a blogging site, when we do not own our domain? We’re an ad mule.

Blog Gets Bigger With Time and Love

The blog gives back what we invest. I gain new followers daily from stuff I forgot I wrote. I began blogging just because I was a slacker who needed to learn self-discipline. Now? This blog gets 1.1 million hits a month. When I take out those who are likely spammers, I am still close to 100,000 visits a month from actual people.

This isn’t because of one or five blogs. It is because of almost 1,300 blogs. A little bit over time adds up. Search engines send people to my blogs. Google has yet to send anyone to my quippy tweet from June 11, 2011.

Newsletters by and large have the same open rate as direct mail (less than 8%) and unlike a blog, a newsletter can only reach those who subscribe (provided the newsletter doesn’t end up in the spam filter). It has no ability to go viral.

The blog does.

Blogs, unlike social sites, can also be harvested for content and made into books. Sure the content is on-line and FREE, but what is our TIME worth? Don’t know about you, but if I love a blog, I will drop the five bucks for a Kindle version that is neat and edited and easy for me to navigate.

Every angle you look at it, in my opinion there is no better ROI than a blog. And I mentioned the safe and stable thing already. And you can put troll comments in trashcan where they belong. Winner winner, chicken dinner!

Is What It Is

Now, I know I might have y’all feeling down (sorry), but this is just the way our world is shifting right now. I use social sites all the time. I just don’t build my platform on them. While fabulous for reaching others, they make a lousy foundation for my brand.

Too…shifty.

Social networks are great for…networking. Ideally, we can use them to encourage others to visit our site and LOVE it enough to hang out. Our website is OURS. We can monetize it, instead of IT monetizing US. The power dynamic shifts. We can add in merchandise, a shopping cart, or get large enough we might court advertisers to pay us.

Our hard work builds OUR SEO, not some mega-brand who expects us to work for free. If we’re going to work our tails off, then it might as well be for OUR benefit, right? This means we can hop on Pinterest or Facebook or InstaSnapPlus and meet and greet…but the party is ALWAYS at OUR place 😉 .

Then, once the book comes out, it’s far less invasive and weird to mention it. Like if you want to learn about social media, check out Rise of the Machines. Feeling bold? You can try my FICTION—The Devil’s Dance— a mystery thriller with even more inappropriate gallows humor and even higher body count than my BLOG!

AMAZING, I KNOW!

I can even mention classes, like my ON DEMAND Blogging for Authors.

Or the other classes (scroll down).

I dunno. Maybe you want to give it a try blogging or writing a novel and don’t want my ten-year learning curve 😀 . I know we writers are masochists but come on. There’s a limit.

Ready for Book Beast Mode? I Live to Serve…Up Some TRAINING!

For anyone who longs to accelerate their plot skills, I recommend my ON DEMAND Plot Boss: Writing Novels Readers Want to BUY. Two hours of intensive plot training from MOI…delivered right to your computer to watch as much as you like 😀 .

The Art of Character is also now available for ON DEMAND.

And if you’re ready for BOOK BEAST MODE and like saving some cash, you can get both Plot Boss and Art of Character in the Story Boss Bundle (ON DEMAND). Almost FIVE HOURS with me, in your home…lecturing you. It’ll be FUN! 

Have to write a query letter or synopsis? Conference season is coming!

Pitch Perfect: Crafting a Query & Synopsis Agents Will Love. Class is May 3rd 7-9 EST and $45 for over two hours training y’all how to do the toughest parts of this job.

I also hope you’ll pick up a copy of my debut novel The Devil’s Dance.

The Devil's Dance, The Devil's Dance Kristen Lamb, Author Kristen Lamb, Kristen Lamb novel, Kristen Lamb mystery-thriller, Romi Lachlan

I love hearing from you!

And am not above bribery!

What do you WIN? For the month of April, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

March’s winner will be announced next post. I know I said this post but have STILL been sick and am a writer so I lie 😛 . Very sorry, but I will make sure I announce it. Been a rough few weeks.

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Just say NO.

Genre matters. Genre is the foundation for longevity, building a loyal fan base and also the key to unlocking all the other plot bunnies (other genres/story ideas) we’ve been dying to try out. Regardless of the publishing path we choose, genre focus is the game-changer that transitions us from published authors to powerhouse brands.

Hello, My Name is Cait and I am a Plot Bunny Addict

Yeah, we’ll get there in a minute.

By now, all of you should know that when you don’t hear from me (Cait) for a while, you should probably worry because I’m holed up in my study either doing research or coming up with new and creative ways to achieve world domination–though so far, I’ve had to rule out hallucinogenic peanut butter, karaoke, and podcasting.

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Frighteningly enough, I looked very much like this as a baby. *shudders*

But, I’m back now, ready to start sharing with all of you the fruits of my research. I’ve been doing some deep digging into the state of the publishing industry, analyzing trends, and preparing to throw down some predictions.

***Punxsutawney Phil ain’t got nothin’ on me.

Today, we’re going to explore current publishing trends and the strategy of choosing a genre. At first glance, it seems pretty straightforward, right? We like to write X, so X will be our genre.

But then…along comes that plot bunny with its cute wiggly nose and cotton ball tail, begging us to take a little side trip into Y genre. It’s cool. We can do that because we can self-publish, right?

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Not So Fast

No more rules. Freedom! We’ve broken the oppressive shackles of traditional publishing in all areas, including the ridiculous way publishers used to limit writers to one specific genre. We are now free to be a seven-genre-crossing author if we want! Ha!

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Yeah…it starts like this…

Well…sorta. Not quite. But kinda.

Let’s take a closer look.

In the beginning, BIG PUBLISHING said, ‘Let there be genres,’ and there were genres, and lo, the publisher saw that it was good.

Before Amazon glomped onto the scene with push-button publishing, authors actually had to pick a genre and stick with it….’til death did they part.

There were solid business reasons for this.

Books took a long time to write and even longer to publish, and this isn’t even accounting for the amount of money it took to produce a book and get it to market—pun intended. The agent then publisher invested a lot of time, thought, and care into helping the author choose a genre. This was imperative for crafting a brand—which is when a name alone has the power to drive sales.

Stephen King. Enough said.

The Downside of Genre Loyalty

While brand loyalty was great for book sales, it wasn’t always so easy on the authors. How many thrillers can one writer write before the thrill is gone? For the author and their readers. But, rules were rules and why mess with what worked?

Then indie…

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Back in the day, if we started writing historical romance…well, we pretty much kept writing more historical romance. Sure, there was some flexibility in the century we chose for our next book. But, it was a nigh-on-impossible quest to go from regency romance to noir crime thriller. Only a handful of already mega-successful authors really ever managed it well.

***Namely because rules don’t apply to them the same way as mere mortal authors.

The Big (Book) Bang

Enter the era of insta-hey-look-I-published-a-book. All the old rules (ostensibly) went out the window. Wanna go from cozy mystery to epic sword and sorcery? No problem! Just keep hitting that ‘Publish Your Book’ button. Who needed fans of the cozy mystery genre to discover our books in the urban fantasy genre?

Genre schmenre. Social media wizardry would magically lead fans to discover US.

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Sure, we might lose some people if we went a while (okay years) without publishing something in our audiences’ preferred genre. Maybe we’d see some drop off when we took that hard left from chick lit to shifter menage erotica. Perhaps our Amazon rankings even dropped below where we’re comfortable.

No biggie. It’s a phase. It will pass.

As long as we just keep hitting that ‘Publish Your Book’ button, we can publish whatever we want in any genre we want. Vive la revolution!

Yes…and, no.

Babies & Bathwater

Interestingly, what I’ve learned from years of working in publishing and studying how it works is that we might have let excitement cloud our vision. To be blunt, in our desire to be unchained from one genre forever…we went a tad cray-cray (actual business term), and threw the book baby out with the bathwater.

Now that the dust is settling in the publishing world, evidence suggest genre focus matters more than we might have realized.

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The truth is that we authors need to position ourselves flexibly but firmly between these two extremes. There is a point between Write six hundred spy thrillers until you DIE and Write ALL the genres and even MIX them!

Regardless of what new shiny the muse wants to explore, picking then sticking with a primary genre is the foundation for great brands, books, and business.

Self-Publishing

Counter to what many have touted, it turns out self-publishing is especially sensitive to genre consistency.

Over the past two years, there were a number of minor fads and trends that had authors jumping from epic fantasy to fairytale retellings, to urban fantasy all within the space of six months. On the one hand, authors developed some momentum in KENP pages read and attracted new fans.

However, in every competitive analysis I’ve done on authors who self-publish, those who started with a primary genre and stuck with it for 90% of their books over a 3-4 year period had the best book rankings, author rankings, social media followings, and Google name recognition.

And while I’m not privy to every single author’s sales numbers. Stupid restraining orders *rolls eyes*. I have been able to dig up enough data that permits me to make the following extrapolation:

Authors with a primary genre for 90% of their books over a 3-4 year period made the most money and had the consistently bestselling books.

This isn’t to say these authors don’t also publish in other genres, but they don’t spend the majority of their writing time, social media time, and marketing resources trying to establish their name and brand in multiple genres simultaneously. That is not a formula for success, more a formula for a nervous breakdown.

For these authors, evidence demonstrates that a successful presence in secondary genres develops more organically and over a longer period of time.

What’s the Takeaway?

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If our career goal is to be a hybrid author or even a purely legacy publishing track, then building in a primary genre becomes even more critical.

The Legacy Published Plan

Let’s start with traditional (legacy) publishing. Getting a book out with the Big 5 generally takes anywhere from 18-24 months. Most traditionally-published authors publish one book per year.

There’s a lot of time, a LOT of money, and a lot of resources invested in getting each book to market (as mentioned earlier). Thus, it makes sense for publishers to erect strong parameters around the the author’s brand. Focus is what generates traction, backlist, and a solid fan base with money to spend.

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Nowadays, there is a teeny tiny degree of flexibility that has crept into the legacy model, most likely in order to compete with Amazon’s yoga-esque genre fluidity. That’s how we get writers like Emma Donoghue who can bend from Victorian mystery to the contemporary masterpiece of psychological drama that is ‘Room.’

Yet, she is the exception, not the norm. In truth, only a fraction of a percentage of traditionally-published authors have been able to pull off this genre-inverted-triangle successfully.

All to say that, if we want to publish traditionally, we’d better really, REALLY love the genre we’re writing in, because that’s going to be home for a long, long time.

The Hybrid Author Plan

With a hybrid publishing model (some books self-published, some books through a traditional publisher), our approach will depend on whether we start out self-published or traditionally-published.

If we start out as self-published but with a goal to eventually enter into the traditional model, genre consistency becomes essential (even if our long-game is to change genres once we break into traditional publishing).

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There are major advantages for a writer who can demonstrate a solid track record of longevity and focus in a single genre. First, genre concentration tangibly demonstrates our ability to achieve long-term goals.

Secondly, by maintaining genre cohesion, this increases the odds we’ll build a vested fan base eager to BUY OUR future books. This makes our books a sound investment for agents/editors based off numbers (not hopes and luck).

Thirdly, genre focus is vital for building a strong author brand. Name recognition alone is useless and not a brand. Only a name that translates into an actual sale is a brand.

James Patterson—>Ka-Ching!

Weird Guy Who Book Spams Non-Stop—>Unfollow & BLOCK

Since legacy press is a business and not a non-profit, these three benefits can translate into (our) massive advantage when we’re seeking our own place in ‘the club.’

We need the club, but why does the club need us? That’s where we need to hustle.

If we’ve successfully stuck to a genre and created a strong fan base on our own, then traditional is the next logical business step to expand distribution for a product that is already successfully selling.

It is a win-win for author and publisher.

If we seek to change genres, it shows the publisher we can commit to the time and work it takes to build both the reputation and backlist required for success.

Again, win-win.

Expanding Genre ‘Horizons’

If we start out as traditionally-published and want to expand into self-publishing, there are several things to consider. First, we need to be very, very sure (as in, I-have-had-a-conversation-with-my-lawyer-agent-editor-sure) that we won’t be violating the terms of our publishing contract by putting out work in the same genre.

Once we have the ‘all-clear’ to keep writing in the same genre, there’s a big adjustment ahead we need to take seriously. First there is the frequency of publication required to compete effectively in self-publishing. Can we write at a pulp fiction speed and maintain quality?

***Often this is the impetus for legacy authors to also write indie. They long to produce at a far faster pace than the legacy model can accommodate.

Also, there’s the question of financial resources required to achieve parity between traditional and self-published books. Cover design, proofing, editing, formatting, etc. Fans have come to expect a certain quality and we better be able to meet or even exceed anything we published via legacy.

No easy task.

On the upside, our fan base should already be somewhat established, so YAY! We can just keep growing and growing…

Stretching Our Genre Wings

In another scenario, we may choose to expand into self-publishing because we’d like to try other genres, especially ones that might not necessarily jive with an already-established fan base.

Steampunk fantasy author Gail Carriger is an excellent example of this (as well as being one of my favorite writers). She has a firmly established seventeen-book steampunk genre backlist of traditionally-published books.

Gail chose to self-publish because she wanted to release shorter and more frequent works in her same steampunk universe (with special dispensation from her publisher).

Eventually, she started publishing works in the contemporary urban fantasy genre with an LGBTQ focus.

Carriger continues to publish both her traditional steampunk and is now consistently building her presence in this new genre. Because she approached her writing career with strategy, her brand has not only maintained integrity, but it is also steadily expanding.

The Plot Bunny Nursery

Also known as the TBW (to-be-written) pile.

At the end of the day, what does all of this mean for all of us writers along the publication continuum?

This is the question I asked myself one day in January as I looked at my writing and marketing plans for 2018. It’s a fact that I don’t so much have a plot bunny nursery as I do a crack house for wayward hares.

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I’m seriously all over the place in terms of my ideas. I have plot bunnies in steampunk, YA mythology, fairytales, historical romance, contemporary psychological thriller, shifter romance. While all my story ideas might be wonderful, I know it’s unwise to try to pursue them all simultaneously.

Strategy matters. This means, I know which bunnies get adopted first. The others can wait (and likely breed).

I confess. My brain bounces from genre to genre like a kangaroo in a bouncy castle. Yours might, too. That’s okay. We can write all the books!

Eventually.

If we publish with planning and intention regarding genre, we’re more likely to reap far better reward. The evidence doesn’t lie. Authors who’ve performed the best—whether traditional, hybrid, or self-published—are the ones who’ve done three things:

Written really great books.

Picked a genre and remained focused on it for at least three years.

Published consistently.

This is where the professional discipline that Kristen talks about really has to kick in. Sometimes, little bunnies have to just chill (drug them if you must). We can’t always do what’s fun and shiny and new. To make it in this highly competitive market, we have make a plan, then stick with the plan, even when it gets boring, or hard, or seems to be getting us nowhere.

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Jumping genres non-stop isn’t the cure for sagging sales and rankings. Writing and publishing great books in a focused genre, then building from there is. So keep calm, stay focused, and the bunnies will be just fine.

Promise 😀 . Kristen has a professional plot-bunny-sitter….

publishing success, plot bunnies, genre loyalty, creating an author brand, genre loyalty advantages, self-publishing, legacy publishing, hybrid publishing

 

NEW CLASSES (AND SOME OLD FAVES)!

GASKETS & GAITERS: HOW TO CREATE A COMPELLING STEAMPUNK WORLD

Instructor: Cait Reynolds
Price: $65 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: FRIDAY February 23, 2018. 7:00 PM E.S.T. to 9:00 P.M. EST

Who doesn’t love some steampunk cosplay? Corsets, goggles, awesome hats…

Steampunk has become one of the hottest genres today, crossing the lines of YA, NA, and adult fiction. It seems like it’s fun to write because it’s fun to read.

However, there’s a world of difference between the amateur steampunk writer and the professional steampunk author, and the difference lies in the world they create.

Is your steampunk world historically-accurate enough not to jar the reader out of the narrative with anachronisms?

Does your world include paranormal as well as steampunk?

Are the gadgets and level of sophistication in keeping with the technologies available at the time?

Steampunk is not an excuse to take short-cuts with history. Good writing in this genre requires a solid grasp of Victorian culture and history, including the history of science, medicine, and industry.

This shouldn’t scare you off from writing steampunk, but it should encourage you to take this class and learn how to create a world that is accurate, consistent and immersive.

This class will cover a broad range of topics including:

  • Polite Society: Just how prim and Victorian do you want to get?
  • Science, Technology, Medicine, and Industry: How to research these without dying of boredom?
  • Creating the Blend: How to drop in historical details without info-dumping, and how to describe and explain your steampunk innovations without confusing.

GET READY TO ROAR: THE BUSINESS OF THE WRITING BUSINESS

Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $55.00 USD
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: Thursday, March 1st, 2018, 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST

Being a professional author entails much more than simply writing books. Many emerging authors believe all we need is a completed novel and an agent/readers will come.

There’s a lot more that goes into the writing business…but not nearly as much as some might want us to believe. There’s a fine balance between being educated about business and killing ourselves with so much we do everything but WRITE MORE BOOKS.

This class is to prepare you for the reality of Digital Age Publishing and help you build a foundation that can withstand major upheavals. Beyond the ‘final draft’ what then? What should we be doing while writing the novel?

We are in the Wilderness of Publishing and predators abound. Knowledge is power. We don’t get what we work for, we get what we negotiate. This is to prepare you for success, to help you understand a gamble from a grift a deal from a dud. We will discuss:

  • The Product
  • Agents/Editors
  • Types of Publishing
  • Platform and Brand
  • Marketing and Promotion
  • Making Money
  • Where Writers REALLY Need to Focus

AMATEUR HOUR IS OVER: SELF-PUBLISHING FOR PROFESSIONALS

Instructor: Cait Reynolds
Price: $99.00 USD
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: Friday, March 2nd, 2018, 7:00-10:00 p.m. EST

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Are you going to go KDP Select or wide distribution with Smashwords as a distributor? Are you going to use the KDP/CreateSpace ISBN’s or purchase your own package? What BISAC codes have you chosen? What keywords are you going to use to get into your target categories? Who’s your competition, and how are you positioned against them?

Okay, hold on. Breathe. Slow down. I didn’t mean to induce a panic attack. I’m actually here to help.

Beyond just uploading a book to Amazon, there are a lot of tricks of the trade that can help us build our brand, keep our books on the algorithmic radar, and find the readers who will go the distance with us. If getting our books up on Amazon and CreateSpace is ‘Self-Publishing 101,’ then this class is the ‘Self-Publishing senior seminar’ that will help you turn your books into a business and your writing into a long-term career.

Topics include:

  • Competitive research (because publishing is about as friendly as the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones)
  • Distribution decisions (because there’s actually a choice!)
  • Copyright, ISBN’s, intellectual property, and what it actually all means for writers
  • Algorithm magic: keywords, BISAC codes, and meta descriptions made easy
  • Finding the reader (beyond trusting Amazon to deliver them)
  • Demystifying the USA Today and NYT bestselling author titles
  • How to run yourself like a business even when you hate business and can’t math (I can’t math either, so it’s cool)

Yes, this is going to be a 3-hour class because there is SO much to cover…but, like L’Oréal says, you’re worth it! Also, a recording of this class is also included with purchase.

The class includes a workbook that will guide you through everything we talk about from how to do competitive research to tracking ISBNs and distribution, and much, much more!

Time is MONEY, and your time is valuable so this will help you make every moment count…so you can go back to writing GREAT BOOKS.

EVEN MORE CLASSES…

Check them out at W.A.N.A. Int’l.

Tyler Lastovich, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

We are now in 2018 and the months ahead are like a fresh notebook. January marks a new start, another chance to go after our dreams and goals. It is human to long for success, yet success can be highly vexing and even more elusive. Why? Simple. We must understand the success paradox or all our noble intentions, our planning, our goals are doomed to fizzle or fail.

Obey the Law

Whether we like it or not, there are underlying forces we can’t see and don’t fully understand that dictate our reality. Certain laws govern behaviors, patterns, habits, causes and yes effects. Understand the laws and work within their confines, and objectives become far easier to obtain.

Laws matter in many areas of life and we dismiss them at our peril. Seriously. Can you imagine NASA ignoring the laws of physics when launching a rocket into space? Or engineers ‘winging it’ while constructing a high-rise? What if pharmaceutical companies just let scientists mix whatever they wanted in a lab heedless to the laws governing chemistry?

Un-pretty.

I Believe I Can Fly

Bess Hamiti, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

What’s funny is so many folks will balk at any mention of laws that govern success as a bunch of self-affirmation silliness. Yet these same people have no problem flying in airplanes, taking pictures with their phones, or downloading an app from a satellite…that is IN SPACE.

WITCHES! Burn them!

Just because we don’t see or yet understand a law doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It also doesn’t mean these hidden laws are not fundamentally impacting you or me in a positive or negative way. The paradox of success can make us or break us and we need to get over having to understand everything before we give something a go. Seeing is NOT always believing.

There are plenty of ‘things’ we can’t see that can and will kill us. We can’t see Cesium 137 but I don’t recommend camping trips near Chernobyl.

Some forces are invisible and can only be realized, measured or understood via causation.

What is the Success Paradox?

Lorenzo Cafaro, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

First, a paradox is a premise that appears absurd or even contradictory to ideas most people accept to be true. If we extend this idea, it means that what’s most commonly thought to be ridiculous regarding success is often the best (or only) way to reach and maintain our goals.

I get it is a brain-bender, but just chillax and we’ll unpack this.

First, just because something appears to make no logical sense doesn’t mean it’s therefore untrue. It means the concept is simply a paradox we’ve yet to fully unlock.

Secondly, if we want to reach our dreams—whatever those dreams may be—then we need to embrace the success paradox and do what’s necessary even when we don’t understand.

If we keep trudging the same path that ‘makes sense’ then it only ‘makes sense’ we’ll end up right in the same spot this time next year. Same list. Same resolutions. Perhaps a different plan but still bewildered why we can’t seem to break free of the cycle.

Hey, I am pointing one finger at you and three at me. We are in this together 😉 .

We must master our thoughts and words or remain enslaved to mediocrity and toxic beliefs. To be clear. NO. I don’t believe we can just believe we’ll be millionaires and money will rain from the sky. Nor do I believe if we simply claim we are already a New York Times best-selling author it magically will happen by Tuesday.

Um, we kind of need to write the book.

To fully embrace the success paradox, however, it’s necessary to reset your brains for 2018, clean out the cache, and maybe even wipe the drive and start anew.

What’s Your Programming?

Lorenzo Cafaro, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

If I handed you a computer you believed was pristine and functional, yet it was loaded with hidden viruses and malware, would that possibly impact your results?

Think about it.

You obediently sit at your desk and use this infected computer day after day believing you’re doing a great job. Working hard! To your great vexation, however, everything you print out is an unreadable disaster.

Thus, you dedicate more hours, learn to type ten times faster and still everything the computer prints is a mess. You take computer classes, read books, and go to computer seminars. You have a NEW plan! Yet, you return to work using the computer loaded with malware.

The screen freezes, your documents vanish and your pages all print in Pig Latin instead of English. So you buy a new computer and transfer all your files to the new computer, but the same thing keeps happening!

No matter how many hours you work, the programs lock up even on the new computer. The printouts are a mess and all attachments are unreadable.

Sigh. Maybe you decide it’s time to get an MFA, MBA, or a DOA. Clearly you’re just destined to fail. You aren’t a ‘real’ writer after all.

Or….

GET RID OF THE MALWARE!

Taking a Quantum Leap

internal programming, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

I’m a total science nerd. One reason I believe many of the personal success tenets are so easily dismissed is that these ‘laws’ dictate cause and effect from the quantum scale. Meaning these principles operate in a realm that doesn’t obey laws we’re familiar with in our macro world.

When particles get small enough, these little buggers simply give no figs about how big particles act or react. Strange force does its own thing, and doesn’t take a popularity poll. This is a world very sensitive to wavelengths and energy (refer to Casimir effect) and they have their own laws…or we think they do (science still working on this).

We also are understanding more and more about memory and how what we think about or talk about impacts the human brain. Neuroscientists have an adage that neurons that fire together wire together. 

The more we think about something the stronger the wiring becomes. Talk about it? Wiring gets stronger. Add in kinesthetic layer (I.e. practice)? WAY stronger.

Thinking and talking about writing a novel is great. Actually writing one? Even a bad one? WAY BETTER. Thinking and talking about learning to play an instrument is good. Practicing? MUCH BETTER.

Lorenzo Cafaro, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

This is because the brain contains Glial cells, which have been called the gardeners of the brain. These cells water, fertilize and strengthen certain neurological connections.

Other Glial cells—known as ‘microglial cells—are in charge of cleanup. Unused thoughts, skills, or knowledge are the brain’s detritus. Microglial cells rake up the dead leaves, prune the dead branches and pull weeds.

Ever wonder why you can’t recall Algebra II or remember who or what started the Franco-Prussian War even though school dedicated a lot of time to this stuff? It’s because—unless you work a job requiring you to use Algebra II or apply European history—your microglial cleanup crew gathered up all these factoids into a mind mulch pile or bagged them for recycling.

Creating Our Reality

Why did I dedicate time to discussing quantum rules and Glial cells? Because this is fundamental to grasping the success paradox and to challenge you that maybe just maybe there is something real (and scientifically sound) to this ‘happy thoughts fluff.’

It’s the New Year and generally two camps will surface. One side will jump and shout and push positive affirmations, visualization and manifestation. The other side will tout that positive affirmations are a bunch of bunk and hard work is all we need.

Yet plenty of positive people never have anything to show for happy thoughts. With no plan, no action or unfocused action, the fruits of Happy Thoughts Only Club is eventually a) a person with a reputation as a total flake to avoid at all cost or b) a promising talent who ended up bitter and disillusioned after years of nothing to show for all the positive thoughts.

Simultaneously, countless ‘hard workers’ dismiss that ‘Hippie Guru Positive Manifestation Crappola’ and truly believe elbow grease is all that matters. Yet, with stinking thinking, after a while, they feel trapped on Hell’s Hamster Wheel. The only fruit for their hard work and sacrifice is burnout, bitterness, defeatism and loneliness.

Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Lorenzo Cafaro, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

It’s impossible for us to believe in nothing. Nothing is a vacuum and what do we know about vacuums? Something will rush in to fill that space. Thus, if something is going to fill that space between our ears, why not be deliberate about it and make it something good? If we’re passive and let whatever wants to fall into our brains take root, then expect more weeds than fruit trees.

Why are thoughts so important? Maybe you’ve heard this quote or some variation.

Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

                                                                               ~Frank Outlaw (Late President of the Bi-Lo Stores)

Back to those Glial cells. They will help the success paradox make more sense.

What Are We Planting/Pruning?

Lorenzo Cafaro, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

If we constantly think about all the ways we will/could fail, mull over our fears, and ruminate over every instance of bad luck or times people wronged us…then these are the thoughts in our minds.

When we speak constant doom and gloom, our words and thoughts signal the Glial cells to reinforce those bad memories and defeatist attitudes. Toxic beliefs act like the malware we discussed earlier. Thoughts and words literally alter our brains’ programming. This ‘negative programming’ then corrupts all we ‘produce’ (actions, habits, results).

Why?

The human brain has no opinions. It simply does as it’s told.

If we grouse, complain and rehash every time life went sideways, those memories and beliefs become stronger and stronger…at the very literal expense of the good.

The Glials rush to reinforce all the memories of when we were victims, times we screwed up, the pain of failure, and the hurtful memories of people (probably family) who told us we sucked or didn’t deserve anything.

Our Glial cells will dutifully buttress the list of the hundred ways we are ‘not enough’…which we then speak aloud either in self-criticism or with friends who also like to gripe and complain. This talking, in turn, will make the Glials work even harder to strengthen those ‘ideas’ since they must be important because we think and talk about them so much.

But what a heavy price to pay…

Stinking Thinking

Lorenzo Cafaro, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success
This is your brain on b*tching.

When we adopt stinking thinking, we unwittingly signal the Glials to make all things bad and self-defeating stronger. Simultaneously, we signal microglials to clean up the ‘trash.’ Problem is, we’re unintentionally directing the Glials to keep the weeds, crabgrass and stickers and instructing the microglials to dig up the roses, fruit trees, and flowers and bag ’em.

Thus, the microglials clip steadily away at countless positive memories, feelings and beliefs. Clip, clip, clip. Bit by bit microglials snip away all the good times, the blessings, the joys, the triumphs and pile them on the cerebral mulch pile.

What are we drawing from to create our reality? A garden or a landfill?

Manifestation

Lorenzo Cafaro, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

The success paradox helps us realize we can only get from life what we sow into it. Plant a field of poison ivy seeds and that’s what we’ll get. People near us won’t break out in the itchies, they’ll break out in the bitchies 😛 .

Think and talk negatively long enough and eventually we’ll find ourselves depressed, wracked with fear, expecting the worst. We’ll self-sabotage in countless ways and our outer world will gradually mirror our inner world.

How?

First, who wants to hang around someone who complains nonstop? Ungrateful people are not a lot of fun. Folks who only can see the bad are unappealing to healthy people but like catnip to losers.

I can say this because I’m a Recovering Debbie Downer. When I was a super negative person, guess what kind of ‘friends’ I had?

Other negative people who shared my favorite hobby…complaining.

If a healthy person came near me and genuinely said I had talent, potential, or skill I pushed them away because their ‘Happy-Joy-Joy-BS’ didn’t line up with my mental programming that I was a hack. Surely they could see the 9,000 ways I totally sucked! It’s all I saw. Who could trust a person that blind? What was their angle? O_o

Is it any wonder I felt trapped and defeated? Since reaching our dreams involves the success paradox—which are behaviors and thoughts that seem to make ZERO sense—I was to fearful to even TRY.

Dare to Be Different

Now let’s flip this. Just because a story starts out badly doesn’t make it automatically a tragedy. It’s how the story finishes that determines if it is a story of triumph or tragedy.

We control our story, but it will take work and intention and probably a lot of feeling silly. Remember the success paradox will seem to make no sense, which is why I needed to help you understand why your mind is going to be critical in the year to come.

Only someone deliberate can embrace then DO the counterintuitive actions necessary to reach higher and higher levels of achievement. The success paradox runs counter to what the world believes is true. Regular people will think we are insane and, in a sense, we are because normal is just another word for average.

Do what average people do, and welcome to average.

The success paradox maintains down is up and up is down because it, too, is a Strange Force. Want more wealth? Let go of money. Want more love? Give more love. Want more peace? Create stronger boundaries. Long for joy, be a blessing. Providence can only move after WE do. Open the hand and only THEN can it be filled.

Exercises:

Today was a longer post. Think of it as wiping the hard drive to make way for all the good stuff in the year to come. We can’t have anything good with corrupted files hanging around. We will talk more about the success paradox but to get rid of malware we need to locate it so we can delete/overwrite it.

Exercise One—Reflect on what you want, then articulate WHY you want it. If you want more wealth, why? If you want to sell more books, why? If you want to be a mega-author, why? If you want to be debt-free, why? If you want to be in better health, why? Y’all get the gist.

Exercise Two—Once you articulate what you want and why, think of people who already have what you want. Without over thinking, what is your first emotional reaction? BE HONEST. If you see someone in the house of your dreams, how do you feel? Or someone your age with a super fit body? Someone your age worth millions? What is your first emotional response?

Exercise Three—If you want to be rich, what do you actually believe about rich people? If you want to be a NYT Best-Selling Author, what do you believe about them? If you want to be fit, trim and healthy, what do you believe about those who are fit?

No judgement and no need to put in comments, but answering these questions honestly will help you get more out of the posts to come 😉 .

What Are Your Thoughts?

Do you want success but deep down really don’t believe it is for you? Maybe you don’t deserve it? Did you grow up in a home that fostered a lot of negative thinking? Did this explanation help the idea of affirmations and positive thinking seem less like fluff and more substantial for you? Do you have self-defeating habits and now see your thought life might be partly to blame?

Are you also a Recovering Debbie Downer? I still struggle. Every day is a challenge to will myself to be positive, especially lately. Been flattened with bronchitis and it was horrible!

Not so much being sick but I felt lazy and was beating myself up for being a slacker. I HAD A 101.5 FEVER! But, I am a work in progress too. In my family, resting=lazy. You’re sick? Fine, fold socks.

Come on, this is more than a blog, it’s free group therapy 😛

I love hearing from you and am not above bribery!

What do you WIN? For the month of JANUARY, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

ALSO, NEW CLASS TONIGHT! 

The Art of Character: How to Craft Dimensional ‘People’ in Fiction

Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $45 USD
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: January 4th, 2018 7:00 P.M. EST—9:00 P.M. EST

No matter what genre we write, the key to writing unforgettable stories always rests with character. How do we create intriguing characters who hook readers and never let them go? What makes a character unforgettable? How do we write stories that endure?

It is easy to fall into tropes and caricatures if we lack a fundamental understanding of human nature and how this plays out in the dramatic narrative. This class will delve into how to add depth to our characters which will, in turn add, resonance with our plot.

This class will cover:

  • Discovering Wounds;
  • Understanding Coping Mechanisms;
  • How Wounds Collide to Increase Dramatic Tension
  • How to Create Dimensional Characters
  • Using Character to Plot

***A FREE recording is included with purchase.

permission for success, success, writing success, fear of failure, fear of success, Kristen Lamb, how to become a published author, mastering New Year's resolutions

Permission. This might seem an odd word to discuss when it comes to success, but we need to hash out some dos and don’ts before January 1st. New Year’s resolutions are often more about taking freedoms away instead of permitting new ones. In my opinion, this is why a lot of well-intended changes fail to stick, but that’s for another post 😉 .

I’m a HUGE fan of discipline, though admittedly, I’m definitely a work in progress. I confess that, in my drive to be disciplined, I can become rigid, legalistic, and ridiculously hard on myself if I’m not careful.

The trick (as in most endeavors) is finding balance. Balance is and can only be achieved with granting ourselves the right kinds of permission. These permissions are especially vital if we hope to achieve success as authors.

Permission to Be New

permission for success, success, writing success, fear of failure, fear of success, Kristen Lamb, how to become a published author, mastering New Year's resolutions

Last post we discussed the writers’ journey from newbie to mastery. This ‘permission to be new’ might seem like an easy one. Do NOT be fooled. This permission might very well be the toughest of all. Why? Because our world has a perception problem.

From a novel, to a movie to an HBO series, the audience is ALWAYS witnessing the final product. They’re enjoying the cumulation of countless hours (or years) of work and the efforts of more than one person.

Even with a novel, audiences don’t stop to think that 99% of authors are not, in fact, publishing their first draft. They also don’t realize that FINAL draft came to fruition with outside assistance (editors & proofreaders).

Yes, there are novelists who claim they publish their first drafts, but (aside perhaps from some anomalous savant) they don’t. Not really. Often this I-only-publish-first-draft-novelist writes an excruciatingly detailed outline which they slash, correct, rearrange, etc. THEN they write the novel. Thus, technically, the outline was draft 1-50.

Also there are writers like Dean Koontz. He writes X amount of pages a day and never revises. But, Koontz wrote a gazillion books using many methods until he was so well-trained he could do this ‘magic.’ Remember, though, that even the great Dean Koontz was once new.

permission for success, success, writing success, fear of failure, fear of success, Kristen Lamb, how to become a published author, mastering New Year's resolutions

Thus expect the world won’t understand why you’re not richer than J.K. Rowling a month after you finish the first draft of your first novel. They’re outsiders who don’t ‘get’ our craft, that it IS a craft with an actual learning curve like um…learning to play an instrument.

People generally don’t appreciate that even J.K. Rowling was a single mother on welfare rejected by more than a dozen publishers. Even her first (reluctant) publisher actively encouraged her to get a ‘real’ job.

Permission to ‘Suck’

permission for success, success, writing success, fear of failure, fear of success, Kristen Lamb, how to become a published author, mastering New Year's resolutions

This permission goes hand-in-hand with being new, but permission to ‘suck’ is one we’re wise to keep our entire career. Getting words on the page is the most important part of the job. No ‘great idea’ for a book ever became a New York Times best-seller. I cannot recall any half-finished ‘perfect’ manuscript ever becoming a runaway success, but plenty ‘meh’ finished ones have.

And no, I can’t explain it either. There are more than fifty shades of why audience tastes are vastly unpredictable. Suffice to say, the world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards finishers.

Also, be aware that sometimes we’re not the best judge of our own work. We could be tired, have a hormone out of place, woke up too early to the cat puking on the carpet SIX INCHES FROM TILE and we’re hypercritical. Everything word is dreadful, tedious, and pure tripe. Our characters are one-dimensional tropes and a hamster with a traumatic head injury could’ve concocted a better plot.

Face it. We’re loathsome poseur hacks who don’t deserve access to Word…or even to live.

Um, eat a Snickers and take a nap. Then keep writing and resist the urge to edit. There are GOOD REASONS WHY this is a dangerous time to edit.

Odds are you’ll look back in revisions and realize you were being a drama queen. Imperfection is where the true beauty of story resides.

Even if the WIP does need to be ‘fixed’ you’re more likely to fix it, not SMITE it. You’ll actually edit and revise instead of going all Old Testament burning to ash, poisoning wells, then salting the earth….after characters wiped out by Backspace Death.

Permission to Write

permission for success, success, writing success, fear of failure, fear of success, Kristen Lamb, how to become a published author, mastering New Year's resolutions

First of all, it is perfectly acceptable to write as a hobby and for fun and not to be paid. I crochet. Additionally, I kind of suck at crocheting, but I enjoy it and it relaxes me. My scarves are pretty enough *shrugs*. I’ve ‘mastered’ ONE stitch in four years. Be assured, you will never see my creations for sale for big bucks or any bucks on Etsy because it’s a hobby.

I don’t desire to crochet products consumers would pay money to wear. This means I can put it off until I feel like crocheting. I also can be more laissez-faire with what the final product looks like, because crocheting is NOT my profession.

If, however, we desire to make a living as an author, then this ‘writing thing’ is our job/profession.

Being an author might be a second or even third job, but it IS a job—a ‘real’ one. Writing isn’t our hobby or our ‘little thing’ and it merits serious priority. Laundry, toilets, and figuring out how to get gummy worms out of the XBox can wait or be delegated.

For more on this, I strongly recommend you read one of my older posts Good Girls Don’t Become Best-Sellers (applies to Nice Guys, too, btw).

Permission to Fail

permission for success, success, writing success, fear of failure, fear of success, Kristen Lamb, how to become a published author, mastering New Year's resolutions

Show me a person who’s never failed and I’ll show you someone who’s never done anything interesting. Afraid to fail? Good, welcome to being human. In my vast experience, only talentless hacks steeped in self-delusion believe all they write is gold.

There’s a balance. Simpering, spineless slackers are as useless as narcissistic, unteachable, know-it-alls. Our goal is to find a happy place in the middle of this bell curve. We should be open to criticism, suggestions and growth while simultaneously being confident and knowledgable enough to know when to stand our ground (lest we end up with a book-by committee).

Humans are wired to learn by failing. Our brains are literally designed to learn by trial and error, which is why I’m adamantly opposed to chastising kids for failing.

I firmly believe our culture’s over fascination with the ‘born genius’ and ‘naturally gifted/talented’ is TOXIC. Kids mistakenly believe if they don’t do whatever ‘perfectly’ the first time or at least super quickly, then there’s something wrong with them. This then carries into adulthood.

Failure shaming, in my POV, generates underachievement (afraid to even try, low self-image) or neurotic perfectionism (hiding oopses, overworking, septic overachievement, terror regarding asking for help). I know because I was reared to be terrified of failing.

This is why as an adult and a MOM, I make sure that failure is embraced and celebrated in our home. Failure is an event, not an identity. I want my son to understand mistakes are stepping stones on the road of progress.

Another reason we’re wise to grant ourselves permission to fail, is a that ‘failure’ isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, failure can actually be a happy accident in disguise.

Two words: Ivory Soap.

Permission to Succeed

permission for success, success, writing success, fear of failure, fear of success, Kristen Lamb, how to become a published author, mastering New Year's resolutions

To succeed, strangely we must give ourselves permission to win. Bizarre, right? Mmmmmm, not so much.

Fear of failure and fear of success are frequently linked and this paradox could be a blog (or book) on its own. It seems stupid for people to fear success. Yet, many do and for a multitude of reasons. First, humans generally dislike change. Success means massive change. We might feel we are ill-prepared to traverse such unknown territory. We fear what we don’t know and places we’ve never been.

We could also worry that, if we succeed, we might not be able to duplicate whatever it was that brought us ‘success’ in the first place. That we’re a fake, a fraud and never actually ‘earned’ the win.

Perhaps now it’s a tad clearer why fear of success and failure are linked.

There’s another reason many of us fear success, one I haven’t seen discussed much. This manifestation is most common for those brought up in a dysfunctional home/background. We are afraid to be happy and our fear of success is linked to a version of PTSD. Always waiting for the ‘other shoe to drop’ so to speak.

For folks who’ve been through trauma, our brains often cannot discern healthy excitement/arousal felt when experiencing success from the anxiety/arousal before ‘the bad thing’ to come. Our brain believes all ‘arousal’ is bad, thus super scary and to be avoided at all costs. This means when we get close to ‘winning’ we might self-sabotage to alleviate the nerve-shredding anxiety.

It takes some retraining of the old gray matter, but it’s worth it. Yes, give permission to succeed. I know I’m not the only one out there who’s self-sabotaged, procrastinated, or up and quit because I was wracked with fear I couldn’t explain. Trust me, I was as mystified as everyone around me until I understood what was causing this behavior.

It’s okay. Being messed up generally makes for better writers 😛 .

What Are Your Thoughts?

As long as I’ve been at this, I still struggle to some degree with all five of these. Permission to write and to succeed are still the biggies. I struggle with guilt that I’m writing when there is so much laundry to do and drawers to sort and on and on. Additionally, I still procrastinate when I might just succeed because I already admitted I’m messed up and that writing is cheaper than therapy 😛

What about you guys? Gonna ‘fess up and be brave? Are you too hard on yourself? Self-sabotage? Petrified of failing? Ashamed of being new? It’s okay, we are all in the same boat here 😀 .

Hey, there are goodies involved for being bold…

I love hearing from you and am not above bribery!

What do you WIN? For the month of DECEMBER, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

ALSO, NEW CLASS! 

The Art of Character: How to Craft Dimensional ‘People’ in Fiction

Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $45 USD (Only $36 with discount)
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: January 4th, 2018 7:00 P.M. EST—9:00 P.M. EST

No matter what genre we write, the key to writing unforgettable stories always rests with character. How do we create intriguing characters who hook readers and never let them go? What makes a character unforgettable? How do we write stories that endure?

It is easy to fall into tropes and caricatures if we lack a fundamental understanding of human nature and how this plays out in the dramatic narrative. This class will delve into how to add depth to our characters which will, in turn add, resonance with our plot.

This class will cover:

  • Discovering Wounds;
  • Understanding Coping Mechanisms;
  • How Wounds Collide to Increase Dramatic Tension
  • How to Create Dimensional Characters
  • Using Character to Plot

***A FREE recording is included with purchase.

Successful People, Habits of Successful People, Kristen Lamb, business success, improving sales, selling books, life changing results

Successful people can seem like they have some kind of magic powers beyond our understanding. For us mere mortals, it often feels like money, fame, fortune and contentment just rain down on these folks from the heavens. GASP!

Truth is, successful people have three simple habits for excellence (habits WE can learn).

Granted, they actually have more than three habits, but today we’re focusing on the BIG ONES. It’s Saturday. Let’s have fun and give our brains a break.

These are habits we can use in every area of life. What are three simple habits our mentors or heroes have that we don’t? What do successful people DO differently? What is their “magic”? For any success? Business, life, marriage, parenting or even a life of joy and contentment, what are the basics?

Understand though, simple is not synonymous with easy. Simple is simple, but rarely easy.

I’ve worn a lot of hats over the years from retail to software to sales and now blogger, editor, entrepreneur. I’ve read countless books on success and then applied what I learned. I stepped out, fell on my face, tripped, failed, learned, whined, grew, read more books, tried again, won THEN CRASHED.

I put out the flames and started over and I work hard to use these tough lessons to get better day by day. I’m always searching for ways to grow, to fire out weaknesses and improve.

I’m currently part of an on-line entrepreneur mentorship program. At first, I was super excited. Now?

I see it quickly devolving into what makes so many writing groups, on-line support groups, businesses, families and marriages unravel and all for the same exact reason.

Selfishness.

On and on about their business, what they can sell, can they put up a price list? Ugh. Only talking to me so they can sell me something (manipulation). They don’t give a rip about me at all, only my debit card.

Reminds me of the old Toby Keith song…I WANNA TALK ABOUT ME!

The group’s mission statement involved entrepreneurs networking, learning, growing and locating mentors. Yet it’s becoming a “What Can I SELL YOU?” thread with a quickness. I’ve seen this happen with almost every single writing support group. These groups begin with service and end in spam.

Buy my book! Have you bought my book? Can you review my book?

Sigh.

Too many people want a shortcut, to take without serving, listening, hearing, and engaging and realizing someone else in the world exists other than THEM.

That’s sadly why the success they long for never arrives because manipulation is a lousy foundation for…pretty much everything. Ergo why Cait and I are going to continue our posts on grifts and how writers being manipulated and used.

For now, though I’m going to focus on YOU 😀 .

#1—Successful People Serve

life changing results, Successful People, Habits of Successful People, Kristen Lamb, business success, improving sales, selling books

I’d like to say I was born a completely selfless person devoid of any personal agendas, but yeah. I try to keep my lying to my fiction. I even wrote a post Pride, Perfectionism and Anger—Confessions of a Recovering Jerk because I want all of you to know you are not alone.

I might be an “expert” but I’ve worked very hard to make it clear that I struggle. Every day I work to check my agenda. Am I talking to someone, being kind, offering help to serve first? Or, do I want something later?

There’s a difference between motivation and manipulation. Motivation is for the benefice of others. Manipulation always looks like “helping others” but it’s all about ME, I, MINE. People are a means to an end.

Which consumers pick up on and then will avoid the manipulator like Ebola, btw…

Over time (and a lot of failures) I learned to value others not because I wanted something from them, but because valuing others is part of possessing good character.

All authentic success has a foundation of integrity and service above self. Great businesses focus on serving not selling.

My motive for blogging for FREE is to serve. If class sales follow? Great, I really dig electricity and eating. Whoo-hoo! But even then my business mission statement is: Superior and affordable training to shape emerging writers into successful, professional commercial authors.

See? Service 😀 .

#2—Successful People Remember

life changing results, Successful People, Habits of Successful People, Kristen Lamb, business success, improving sales, selling books

They remember a lot about other people. It’s because they make a point to do this. They recall faces, names, hobbies, victories, struggles, and the stories of others.

The best advice I can give might initially seem silly, but the best way to show people you value them is to ask for and then remember their name. All people, not just people who can do something for us.

I hear this all the time, I am SO bad at remembering names. This is an excuse, one I used for a long time, myself. Thus, I’m totally NOT judging.

Hard truth is we can remember names when we think the name/person is important.

If I was at a conference and there was a mega agent I wanted to get eyes on MY BOOK. Oh heck to the yeah I’d remember THAT NAME. Some millionaire wanting to give out seed money for struggling authors? Yup. Would remember that one, too.

Thus my excuse of “being bad at names” crumbles under the litmus of motive and agenda. The challenge then is to work on authentic connection with all who cross our path, not just people who can get us an angle.

Remembering names and people is a habit of excellence and builds integrity.

Okay, how?

life changing results, Successful People, Habits of Successful People, Kristen Lamb, business success, improving sales, selling books

The best way to remember names is to first get the name. I look at name tags in grocery stores (ask if no tag available), then call the person BY their name. I talk to the person slicing my deli meat, ask questions and then listen. Then answer the person BY NAME.

Using a name makes it more likely we will remember it.

Remembering names places me in a mindset of valuing others, slowing down and thinking of other people first with no agenda other than kindness. This habit will pay off major dividends not only in our spirit, but the hearts of others.

When it comes to business, our odds of success improve because people are tired of being sold to non-stop. They’re weary of folks who only talk to them or know they exist when they want something.

#3—Successful People LISTEN

life changing results, Successful People, Habits of Successful People, Kristen Lamb, business success, improving sales, selling books

Successful people listen first, act later. Effective entrepreneurs listen to what consumers are in need of, what problem needs solving, and then act. Their business, service, product is FOR others, not solely “to make money.” People don’t like feeling like walking piggy banks, FYI.

Great authors listen to the world around them and pay attention. These writers seek out stories audiences crave even when the readers might not yet know that was JUST the story they wanted.

Yes, the writers want to sell books #DUH. But SALES come organically as a result of connection gained from listening (and serving) first.

If we don’t listen with the goal to truly hear? We frustrate ourselves and others because we’re blathering opinions, suggestions, thoughts, services that might not even be salient let alone desired. In fact, might even peeve others off.

Kristen Lamb, habits of excellence, selling more books, successful people

Yet, if we’d stop and listen, we’d be in a far better position to connect authentically and be successful (with books, sales, kids, marriage, life). We’d be working smarter, not harder because we’d know the actual need instead of guessing then blasting others with a scattergun.

In the end, simple changes in daily habits add up over time. It seems kindness, authenticity, excellence are great buzz words for sermons or self-help. Yet, these habits of excellence appeal to all humans (even ones buying stuff).

I know we all want the express elevator to the top, but it doesn’t exist. Anyone who says differently is selling us something completely useless (grift).

LET’S HAVE FUN! I WANNA TALK ABOUT YOU, JUST YOU! ALL YOU, YOU, YOU! I WANT TO KNOW YOU!

Tell me something about YOU!

successful people, habits of success, Kristen Lamb

Doesn’t even have to do with this post. Have fun! What are your hobbies? Loves? Passions? Fears? Struggles? Favorite movies? Foods? Favorite songs? Greatest accomplishment? What are you most proud of? What do you love about writing?

Funniest thing ever happened to you? Worst date EVER? Best date ever? Tell us about your pets, your kids, your garden or quilting project. Pictures and links welcome! Show off! I am giving you the stage *bows dramatically*

I want to know about your dreams, your hopes, about the bodies in your basement! …okay maybe not that. #Accomplice

I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! And I am NOT above BRIBERY! I will pick someone for a FREE class recording from comments today AND enter you in usual contest.

What do you WIN? For the month of OCTOBER, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

For subscribers, click to my site to view gallery of upcoming classes (gallery doesn’t show up for you). But here are the two biggies coming up…

BRAND BOSS! When Your NAME ALONE Can SELL! November 9th, 7-9 EST and comes with FREE RECORDING. $45 for General Admission, GOLD Option Available!

PLOT BOSS! Writing Novels Readers WANT TO BUY! November 16th, 7-9 EST and comes with FREE RECORDING. $40 for General Admission, GOLD Option Available!

Bad Boys. $45.00 USD. Friday, November 17, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!