The Comfort Zone is for Pets, Not Professionals

It’s a Purrgenomic Keyboard

I’m back! Just so you guys, know, I really missed you. Before we address today’s topic, some industry news. Months ago, I wrote a post Bracing for Impact–The Future of the New Publishing Paradigm where we talked about the problems with the publishing industry and I even offered some solutions to the indie bookstores’ problems. Stop fighting digital and get creative—pair paper and digital sales.

Then, two weeks ago, I wrote a post declaring that Big Six Publishing is Dead. In this post, I pointed out that Amazon would need to get its Kindles into a physical bookstore to survive. B&N stores had Nook, Target was partnering with Apple for the iPad, Kindle would HAVE to get its tuchus in a store because there is something about putting your physical product in the customer’s hands.

I said we should not be surprised when Amazon opened their own bookstores or partnered with a bookstore. Some cried that I was MAD! MADNESS! Amazon partnering with a bookstore? That is like Lady GaGa and Rush Limbagh going shopping together. Again, MADNESS!

Yes, sometimes even I think I’m crazy. Okay, well I am crazy, but my Publishing Magic Eight Ball was apparently right again.

Waterstones (a chain of almost 300 bookstores) just signed a deal with Amazon that will put Kindles and e-books in their bookstores so that customers can browse paper, but also choose to download the digital. And there will even be helpers there to show customers how to use their new device…which sounds a lot like my blog WANA Plan to Save the Bookstore. Yes, Waterstones has signed this deal, even after managing director James Daunt described Amazon as a, “ruthless, money-making devil.” Hey, apparently the devil pays the bills.

So I just had to give y’all the news because 1) this is a seriously cool development and is real business creativity and 2) I was RIGHT! Ha ha ha ha ha. Okay, I’ll stop *does cabbage patch dance*

This past weekend I attended the DFW Writers’ Workshop Conference, and it has to be one of my all-time favorite conferences. They always have some of the best talent in the industry teaching, and the panels are always well-balanced with experts from all areas of the emerging paradigm. Yet, one thing disturbed me this past weekend and I felt this blog was a great place to address it…so it might benefit all of you.

I watched a panel of experts who were talking about the changes in publishing, and virtually every expert from traditional publishing in NYC said one thing that bothered me deeply:

“We don’t expect our writers to do anything (regarding social media) that makes them uncomfortable. If you aren’t comfortable, don’t do it.”

And what I find fascinating is it is exactly this advice that is crippling NY’s ability to be competitive in the new paradigm. Over and over I had writers tell me, “Well, the editors said that if we aren’t comfortable blogging/tweeting, don’t do it.”

My answer? SERIOUSLY!!!!???? People who love you and care about your future don’t hand you a Snuggie.

If we are comfortable, we’re dying. Nothing great happens in the comfort zone. In fact a lot of creepy stuff that involves the fire department cutting you out of your house happens when you get too comfortable.

Every day you should do something that scares you. I do. In fact, I challenge myself once a day to do something truly uncomfortable (beyond wearing pants that actually button). Those actions that scare us are the most important; they are the game-changers that can take us warp speed to the next level.

You Have Not Because You Ask Not

Learn to ask. Ask a lot. Ask for stuff that frightens you. Four years ago, I had never even met a New York Times best-selling author in person. I was a member of the DFW Writers’ Workshop group and I happened to attend the OWFI Conference. I spotted NYTBSA Bob Mayer and attached myself like a burr in his sock.

Later that year, the DFWWW was planning the next year’s conference. I suggested that I could ask Bob to be the keynote, then immediately hoped they hadn’t heard me. But they had heard me, and the liquor store was already closed.


Even though I had been teaching Bob all about the wonders of social media, he still kind of terrified me. I was just a lowly unpublished nobody. But, shaking, I wrote the e-mail THAT NIGHT, before I could talk myself out of it. Not only did Bob say YES, but later I became WDW’s (now Cool Gus Publishing’s) first outside author and my book became a #1 best-seller that has changed a lot of writer’s careers.

What would life have been like if I hadn’t dared to ask the question?

Same with James Rollins. He was my all-time favorite author. I stalked talked to him on Twitter and later, dared to ask the stuff that scared me. I asked for a blurb for my second book, and Jim, being the awesome person he is, not only said yes, he read my first book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and loved it so much he bought a copy for his agent Russ Galen…who is now my agent, too.

All because I asked.

Create the Habit

Make no mistake, I’ve had my share of disappointments and embarrassments. I’ve asked plenty of times and gotten a “no.” Sometimes those “no’s” were two steps away from a restraining order. Yet, the more we ask, the more we push into what makes us afraid, the easier it gets. This is why it is so critical to challenge yourself as much as you can. The worst advice anyone can give you is to “maintain comfort.”

Pets are allowed to maintain comfort, not professionals.

Comfort and Lazy are Close Cousins

We all seek comfort. It’s human nature. But it is also human nature to be lazy and the line that defines the two is very, very thin and undefined. Lazy people are rarely successful. They are the lotto winners who are back on food stamps in five years. Comfort can easily infect our character and create bad habits that will slowly erode our success. We must be ever-vigilant. I know if left to my own design, I am so lazy I could slip into a coma…probably a sugar coma, because I don’t feel like cooking.

Comfort KILLS

What I found interesting at the conference was that the self-published and indie published authors were all about trying new stuff; new tactics, new technology, and really challenging themselves to learn as much as possible. If they didn’t understand formatting, the taught themselves or took a class or read a book. They tried new tactics and if they worked? GREAT! If not? Learn something, try something, do something else. FAIL. FAIL BIG and FAIL A LOT. Failure is always guarding the door to success.

Does this give a little hint why the indies are thriving while NY is dying? NY doesn’t want to be uncomfortable. They don’t want to let go of the old print/consignment model. They tell their writers not to do anything on social media that makes them uncomfortable.

Why not tell them to stop whining and then buy them copies of my books or send them to one of my classes? Or Bob Mayer’s classes? Or tell them to go talk to Kait Nolan?

Ways to Defeat the Lazy

1. Go THAT Way

If something makes us feel uncomfortable, likely that is the direction we need to go.

2. Get Educated

Sometimes things make us uncomfortable only because we don’t understand them. If Twitter makes you twitch, buy my book, take a class and learn how to use it. Follow these instructions and start using the #MyWANA and let the WANAs guide you. Plotting make you uncomfortable? Read James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure or take one of his classes.

3. Suck It Up

Just do it. Every day write down something that would possibly be a game-changer…then do it FIRST. Is it writing a synopsis? A query? Writing a favorite author and telling them why you love his or her work?


Hobbyists whine, professionals roll up their sleeves and get to work.

5. Choose Friends Who Command Excellence

Step #4 is easier if you surround yourself with excellent friends who are also professionals. They will catch you in your whining and smack you around. I know this is why my closest pals are Piper Bayard, Ingrid Schaffenburg, Donna Newton, Kait Nolan and Jenny Hansen. I can count on them to knock me around if I start to whine too much. They keep me accountable and if you follow their blogs, you will see they are definitely committed to excellence.

Ingrid is my business partner and a former professional ballerina. I asked her to be my partner for good reason. Rumor has it that former ballerinas make excellent military drill instructors.

So what are your thoughts? Do you believe my advice is misguided? Maybe making people uncomfortable is a bad thing? What are some ways you get yourself out of your comfort zone? Do you have any tools, tactics or ideas you can contribute? Any places willing to rig a desk chair with electricity to keep writers from goofing off on Twitter?

To prove it and show my love, for the month of May, 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. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of May I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

***IMPORTANT MESSAGE–For those who have not gotten back pages. My web site fiasco has been responsible for eating a lot of e-mails. Additionally I get about 400 e-mails a day and the spam folder has a healthy appetite too. It is hard to tell since some people never claim their prize, but I could have very well just not seen your entry. Feel free to e-mail it again and just put CONTEST WINNER in the header so I can spot you easily. (especially if your message is kidnapped by the spam filter).

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.


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  1. Your post reminds me of something a newly contracted author said in one of my Facebook groups. She’s self-pub’d quite a few books, and then signed a multiple book deal with a legacy publisher. Wonderful for her, except her publisher and editor are telling her not to put a lot of time into marketing and social media, which is the complete opposite of what she should be doing. Of course, writing must always come first, but unless they’re somehow pulling a huge marketing budget for her out of thin air, I’m not sure how she’s supposed to maintain sales. Anyway, it really hit me (and several others) the wrong way. So I’m not surprised to hear traditionals saying something similar at the conference.

    For me, it all boils down to this: nothing good is ever easy. EVER. Some people might appear to step into a pot of gold, but there is usually some hard work behind their good luck. Social media, blogging, and the finer points of craft were all very intimidating to me a year ago. But I stuck with it, worked hard, and I’ve sold my first book. I might even have a small audience. That’s not to say there isn’t a huge hill to climb, but that’s part of the fun. What’s the point of the journey if we aren’t being challenged?

  2. All excellent advice and stuff we (read “I”) need to be reminded of constantly. The only thing I would add is for everyone to attach a moral/ethical compass to themselves and follow it. Just because it would make me uncomfortable to spam my Facebook friends list with “Buy my book” messages every other day, doesn’t mean I should do it : ) — I realize that’s not what you’re saying in this post, but I think it’s a point that needs to be made. Doing something that makes us uncomfortable AND gives our moral/ethical compass a smackdown is something we should probably avoid. The trick is the ability to be honest with yourself and know when you’re using the compass as an excuse to be lazy! Great post Kristen!

    1. LOL. Great caveat and YES. NO SPAM. Discomfort because something is wrong is different than discomfort because we are afraid. Sometimes we do need to sit still and ask the tough questions. Great addition!

  3. I agree about the comfort zone. I love a challenge and that is part of what attracts me to blogging and writing a book.

    I wondered what you think about traditional publishing. Should we try going that route first and then pull the plug (trigger), and self-publish if we aren’t successful after a year?

    1. I’ve been wonering that too, Susie. Trying a bit of everything.

      1. Is wonering like whining lol? (wondering)

        1. I am waiting for Kristen to weigh in….

          1. Depends on the writer, the genre and the book. Not all authors are cut out to self-pub. It is A LOT of work. Also, some works will naturally do better trad published. I say get educated. If you can’t sell that first book, keep writing and sure, publish the first one yourself. It gets it out there and it can be earning money or at least get you some feedback on your writing and start building an audience. Just be prepared for all feedback, good and bad ;).

          2. Thanks Kristen! I will let you know how it goes. I have to finish the rewrite and have it professionally edited first!

  4. Reblogged this on Sorrows Fall.

    1. Reblogged? Something new to learn.

      1. I just learned it today ^^

        1. I pressed the WordPress button at the bottom of the blog, think that’s the right thing? For some reason WANA had not loaded on my Kindle, so I took care of that little issue, and my nighttime reading is set for the next couple days

  5. Thanks for this great post. One of the hardest thing I’m facing as a newly published author is asking for favors. Recently I’ve had to contact authors for blurbs and I was more squeamish about that than querying my book. I have found publishing to be a great exercise in humility. Which I probably need anyway.

  6. A big and total Amen! The past twelve months has been a HUGE battle to put my supposedly shy self out there. Tremendous paybacks for doing so have been heaped upon me and I heartily recommend the same course of action for anyone looking for success on any level in writing these days.

  7. This blog could not have come at a more perfect time. I’m by nature reticent and prefer to socialize over the internet due to the ability to be relatively anonymous. This is obviously killing my writing career or at least bleeding it out. I am terrified of ‘no’. In fact so terrified and certain that the answer will always be no that I never even get to the ‘who should I ask what’ stage.

    I have done what you suggested. I have made my list. I will be doing the first thing that terrifies me the most. Though I might need a cup of coffee first.

  8. I need to go back and reread your blogs every day. It’s just far too easy to slide into that comfort zone, and wait around for something to happen. This was a kick in the posterior. THANK YOU

  9. Comfort is for sissies. Seriously. You want discomfort? Get a “note” from your editor asking you to revise 10 (of 12) chapters. Boo hoo. Did it, published it, got great reviews.

    Where does anyone buy the fantasy that any aspect of writing/selling/marketing your book is going to be cute, fun and comfy? Every single published author I know (and they are not self-published), in addition to my two BFFS who run PR for two Big Six houses, offer ZERO comfort on this issue…be prepared to work your ass off unil your book is pulped/remaindered or…we can hope…becomes a best-seller.

    Most likely, like 99% of us, it will, if you’re lucky, hit mid-list and sell decently enough to allow you to sel the next one. And that’s STILL after working your ass off (and paying for) every single scrap of PR/marketing/expert help you’ll need along the way.

    I was told my by my then new agent I HAD to start blogging, in June 2009, in order to build brand/audience for “Malled”, my new memoir. Ugh. Keck. Meh. But I did it, starting the following month and have been blogging 3x week since then, now with 1400 followers of all ages worldwide, adding 3-8 new ones every day.

    Being smart and consistent about social media, (God forbid you’re a modest person and find it appalling), is tiring and it’s hard work and it’s unpaid and it cuts into my paid work. But it keeps my name top of the Google rank, (which means readers and clients find me fast), and for that alone, it’s worth it.

    Just do it, already.

    • Christine Carminati on May 23, 2012 at 9:22 am
    • Reply

    I was also at the DFW conference and attended the same panel discussion. I came away with a little different take on what was said. What I heard was more, do Twitter if you can’t stand FB, or do Pinterest or do whatever form of social media you’re into, but eliminate the one you can’t personally connect with. I thought it was good advice.

    That being said, the whole idea of doing what scars you is great advice. If any of you haven’t read THE WAR OF ART by Steven Pressfield, run out and read it today. The entire book is about overcoming resistance against accomplishing our goals and dreams.

    1. Yes, but sometimes people don’t like something because they don’t understand it. I have had MANY students who HATED the idea of blogging. They didn’t see any point and the thought of blogging was as appealing as the idea of eating broken glass. Then they took my class and understood that what they THOUGHT blogging was was all wrong. Now they LOVE blogging.

      I think better advice would have been, “Hey, maybe you don’t like something because you don’t understand it. Take a class and really explore it before you write it off. THEN, if you really dislike it? Focus on what you love.” Writers are naturally lazy (I know, because I am a writer and naturally lazy). The second anyone (especially anyone in authority) gives us an excuse to not do something, we will take it.

    • Monique on May 23, 2012 at 9:31 am
    • Reply

    I cannot agree with you more, Kristen. Is there anything that we want, truly desire, crave to the point of pain that is easy? I guess that most of us would answer no. Stacy nailed it when she said nothing good is ever easy. I’ve attended two conferences over the past few months, and forced myself to do things that made me naseus, even shake. Each time led to GREAT things! I will continue to push myself out of my comfort zone until I’ve reached my definition of success.

  10. I completely agree with you.

    David Neagle’s book (, which I read this week-end (only 99 cents on your Kindle) says much the same thing.

    I’ve launched a blog where I’m PUBLICLY providing intuitive readings, for FREE, for writers (also following your advice to not be yet another writer blogging about writing), and then sharing the response from the reading. It’s gruesome to be so honest and out there. Hard. Deeply and totally out of my comfort zone.

    Exactly why I should do it, and I’ll continue to do it (though every time makes me cringe…).


  11. I was scared to write that email to the agent who liked my short story…but then she and her husband/co-agent LOVED my book. I was resistant to the idea of getting on Twitter, etc., out of fear, and knew I needed help. I almost didn’t take Kristen’s class. But finding the WANA crew has pushed me out there in the social media scene and now I’m getting better at blogging consistently. It’s no fun pushing out of that comfort zone, some days I just want to lay on that couch with my feet up! But that does not get my stories written or out there!

  12. I agree with you about breaking out of your comfort zone. Lord knows I’ve fought the social media stuff, simply because I couldn’t understand it. I have a thing about reading instructions, too, like to be shown in person. I think I am a kinesthetic learner.

    Well, I have to get over that. The world doesn’t work that way. Here I am a writer, and I don’t like manuals? What’s up with that?

    What a refreshing breath of air these successful Indie authors bring to the writing community. I have to say I don’t hear it from the traditional pubs. Yes, they are excited about their new sales, agent “gets” and such, but then we don’t hear much. And the successful Indies are telling us how much they actually make, which makes me think there’s a big gap there.

    But like I tell everyone, and especially my traditionally published author friends, thank God we have a choice now.

  13. Hi Kristen –
    I am pleased to hear that you had a great time @ the conference, but also that you were frustrated. I’ve noticed that your posts that stem from from frustration are passionate & filled w/amazing practical advice (not that they weren’t before – now your posts are magnified in those areas).
    Change comes about only when we are uncomfortable, dissatisfied or in any way agitated (excited – either negatively or positively). People don’t like change because it is a lot of work & takes us out of our comfort zone, as you indicate above. But as you say, without change, we die.
    My recent big change was when I decided to do a blog (which is now bordering on a website). I was struggling w/my health & alienated from the people & friends I loved because I had to move near my parents for them to help care for me. After surgeries, depression, etc., I decided I had to do something different but at the same time wanted to help others. By building a website/blog w/a friend & doing a lot of research (including reading your 2 bks, Kristen), I went from knowing next to nothing about blogging to having a website w/guest bloggers. The next thing I did was a month long “Building an Author’s Platform” during April w/Robert Lee Brewer ( I met an amazing group of writers, poets, beginner writers & others. Now, I am one of the moderators for our reading group on Goodreads. In essence, when I took a little break, I volunteered to do something else.
    I like the road I am on, but I have a lot to learn. Thank goodness all my education taught me that I can teach myself, know where to look to find the answers I need, &/or ask others for help.

    So glad you’re back!

    1. Yes, a nice parallel with the comfort zone is to be careful with getting too satisfied. We should look for discomfort because it makes us grow and reach. I loved the conference, but I hate wasted talent and I think NY could do some really amazing things if they would be a bit braver ;). Congrats on your success. Can’t wait to hear more!

  14. Kristen, you are my daily dose of ‘courage and kick in the pants.’ You’re an IV drip for slow and steady success.

    1. LOL. Love it!

    • Karen Lynn Klink on May 23, 2012 at 9:53 am
    • Reply

    If you know a way to keep up with social media and still have plenty of time to write, I’m all for it.

    1. Connect with the WANAs. Then you aren’t building your social platform all by yourself. You have a team. We all work together so it takes far less time. Frankly, if we are doing social media correctly, it shouldn’t take a lot of time. Sort of like working out. We can show up to the gym and drag out a workout for two hours, but if we get with a trainer, they can kick our tails for a half an amour and get better results than us dawdling from machine to machine for three hours. It is about a plan, focus and discipline :D.

  15. I was thinking in the morning that it’s been awhile since Kristen blogged last time, started worrying, even considered to tweet you ))
    I totally agree with you on the comfort zone.
    I’m not sure about your phraze that indies are thriving and trad pubs are crumbling down. Only a handful of indies are successful commercially, the rest and the vast majority are contracted with big publishing houses.
    And the reason why I think trad pubs are so slow in embracing the ebook market is that that at least in Europe paperbacks still are 90% of all the market.
    Another thing is Amazon coupling to Waterstones won’t change much in trad pub thinking regarding the writer on the social media issue. Untill the indies start claiming a really big chunk of the overall market.

    • Jordan L. Hawk on May 23, 2012 at 10:07 am
    • Reply

    After reading WANA, I stuck a post-it note on my monitor reminding me to “Do one extroverted thing each day.” I’m one of those people who would prefer to lurk and let others do the talking, so if I don’t force myself to do something (like comment on blogs!) then I won’t. I’ll add a new post-it with your game-changer advice next. 🙂

    1. AWESOME! You are doing great because I actually recognize your name and face now (that’s a good thing, btw :D).

        • Jordan L. Hawk on May 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm
        • Reply

        TY for the encouragement! The next challenge: blogging! 😀

  16. I’ve subscribed to your fantastic blog for several months now, but this entry struck a chord with me (and I’m a musician, so pun intended). Thanks for reminding me to get out of my comfort zone. I’ve been wanting to buy your book but kept putting it off. No longer. It is time for this dinosaur to come into the 21st century. 🙂

  17. You are speaking my language, Kristen! As an actress I gradually became comfortable with the types of roles and jobs that I was “right for”, but when the opportunity came to write for Radio Disney I made a huge leap of faith.

    I had to go from a Mac to PC, learn to network, learn how to write the voices of all the characters that were already created and improvise new ones for the radio theatre series, I also had to learn how to operate the recording equipment in the liner booths that were preset for voices much deeper and bigger than mine, and I’m proud to say that I pioneered writing at home and attaching scripts to e-mail (it was 1997) because I wanted to spend more work time at home with my 5 & 7 year old kids.

    So many opportunities to fail. So little time to learn how to make everything work.

    I often speak to young people about the themes in my book and how I became a steampunk author. I tell them about taking that huge risk that led to a new career in writing and ask, “What is the worst thing that could have happened?” I could have given it my best, fallen flat on my face, and then have the honor of being fired by Mickey Mouse. That sounds pretty impressive right there!

    Now I’ve got to get on that Twitter train. You’ve made a believer out of me and I can’t wait to start working with you. Just think, if I hadn’t taken a big risk and agreed to sit on a panel with James Rollins and teach a class about self-publishing when I have all of one book under my belt, I wouldn’t have met you or Kait or Fred.

    Risk on writer lady!

  18. I wonder if publishers are dispensing that advice because they KNOW that social media will make them largely obsolete and they’re terrified of it.

    They don’t want us to break out or have a platform unless its because of THEM. Once we find out we can sell as many copies as they could, and get more money-per-book doing it, and faster… they are going to have no answer, and no use.

    Being an author is being a public figure, and you have to have the stomach for it, or it will defeat you. Do NOT be defeated by fear, but overcome it, banish it, and learn new things to add to the confidence and skill required to do so. If we aren’t willing to face fears and discomfort… I wonder.. what does that say about our writing?

    We need boldness in all our work, both on the page, and in the market. Anything less will fail.

  19. Thank you for another great post and hope you had a good break, we all missed you too!
    I am a terrible procrastinator especially when it’s to avoid doing something that makes me uncomfortable. I have to force myself to do such things. But you are so right about this, we need to make an effort to make things happen, it won’t just fall in our laps! 🙂

  20. Social media, as much as I don’t understand it many times, is the easiest, cheapest and fastest way right not to get an authors face out to the public,
    For authors, like myself, who are with small publishers or are self-pubbed the use of FB, Twitter, GR gives us an avenue, at little or no expense, to get our books out to readers. Print ads, even with several authors from the same house, can be to expensive not to mention the short shelf life of the magazine. And really, how many people actually check out the ads. The time it takes to do one guest blog or interview on a blog cost almost nothing in money out of pocket and can reach more people in a shorter time than any print ad can. And don’t forget the internet used to be called World Wide Web, so that blog post reaches people from all over the world.
    Sure it might be uncomfortable at times but it’s the future and if big houses don’t encourage their authors then we win, they lose.

    • Lanette Kauten on May 23, 2012 at 11:15 am
    • Reply

    Great motivational blog. Just going to the conference got me out of my comfort zone, then pitching my novel, submitting to the gong show, and talking to not one but TWO best selling authors. In July, I’m traveling to a foreign country to do research for my next book, and I don’t even speak the language. I’m terrified. So why haven’t I gotten serious about blogging when it’s a snap in comparison to everything else I’ve mentioned? Because for me being ignored is more frightening than rejection. But as soon as I get another computer cord (I broke mine Saturday morning), I’ll start blogging regularly.

  21. You are so right. Doing the things that have scared me are the things that changed my life … for the better (in a amazing ways)! Thanks for the reminder, and the kick in the pants to suck it up and take that next leap out of my comfort zone. 😉

  22. What an INSPIRING post, Kristen. Come to think of it, that’s what I usually say after reading one of your blogs, but I don’t always feel the need to comment. Today, however, I have a short story to relate. About 6 months ago, I happened upon your blog and subscribed because I had written two novels and after about two dozen agent rejections didn’t know what to do next. Social Media?? What’s that?? Eventually, I bought your books “Are You There BLOG?” and “The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” and went to work. I started thinking about me as a brand, put up a website (, added a Facebook professional page, got set up on Twitter and started a blog on WordPress. I now tweet to 1300 followers, have over 50 “likes” on my FB page and it’s growing every day, and even got a few comments on my blog postings. My LinkedIn connections went from 12 to over 250 in a little over two weeks. Next I’ll tackle MySpace, per your book’s suggestion. I now feel connected and alive and getting support from other writers. I’m beginning to feel part of a community and maybe even capable of self-publishing later this year after getting that second novel professionally edited like I did with my first one.
    Bottom line is, you gave me the kick in the butt to stop wringing my hands and get moving on being the writer I want to be. THANK YOU for being you and for continuing to hammer home the point that it may actually be the best time to be a novelist.

    1. What a fantastic story….and ignore MySpace. They went crazy two weeks after my book came out. I am currently working on a new one, but WANA core principles are the same no matter what social site is hot. I recommend Pinterest instead. It’s fun and let’s the brain rest.

      1. Glad to here your comments about MySpace. I didn’t really see how it fit in with my equation anyway, but you’re the expert!! Yes, Pinterest really interests me. That will be the next obstacle for me to tackle…and much more writing

  23. The comfort zone is such a soft, fluffy place! I don’t wanna leave! But you’re right and things in indie publishing are very exciting, who am I to miss the ride? Not this time.

    And the mailer daemon doesn’t like your address, Kristen. When I re-submit my pages I get a bounce back. What can I do? Please, help.

  24. Kristen, I think you’re right, and very timely. I’ve recently been making an effort to get reviews, interviews, submit to new places, etc. for my fiction, after years of being a Univ. professor and academic author of non-fiction. For those years I was so busy I left everything up to publishers, and nothing much happened. Even though it means losing sleep at times, and occasionally feeling let down by fellow humans, the continuing attempts to reach out more seem like the only way to give the work (in which I’ve invested so much of my life) a chance to find its audience. At times my rebel self from teenage days gets a kick out of my attempts to go against the grain–good to know he’s still kicking. Thanks for your encouragement and good sense.

  25. My entire writing life and the subjects I choose to write about bring on a fear response, but the only way around a fear is through it. I used to fear Twitter because I felt I had nothing to say, but I’m getting the hang of it. Like Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing a day that scare’s the shit out of you.” Okay, I lied. She didn’t say that, but something way more eloquent. But, that’s what I say. And do.

    • lynnkelleyauthor on May 23, 2012 at 11:54 am
    • Reply

    Yay, Kristen, you called it again. I wonder if Amazon will be working with any other bookstore chains.
    No, your advice isn’t misguided at all. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. Pretty gutsy, for sure! I agree that we have to be willing to take risks. I’m taking risks making some pretty nutty YouTube videos, but I’m a children’s author and kids usually like nutty stuff. I can definitely feel the “she’s so out there” vibes from some people. Like you said, some things work and some things don’t. It’s good to try new things. And Youtube is free advertising because I put my website at the end of the videos.

    Thanks for another inspiring post. Glad you had a good time at the conference.

  26. I think when it comes to social media and blogging, the advice to do it even if it isn’t in your comfort zone is good – to start.

    The problem comes with writers who do it and continue to feel completely uncomfortable and stressed about it. When I read blogs/tweets/updates, etc from writers who found a rhythm even if they were scared to begin with, I have to think that they are happy they pushed themselves. Their readers certainly are.

    BUT, I’ve also read blogs/tweets/updates from writers that are clearly still very uncomfortable with it. It shows. If their discomfort comes across, it certainly isn’t going to help them sell books or connect with an audience. For those writers, if they’ve exhausted the various avenues of “getting comfortable” (not to be confused with making it easy) I do think that it may not be enough of a benefit to them to continue.

    I think the key is knowing when the time you are investing is better spent elsewhere.

  27. Your post is right on the money as always! My entire professional life has been built on being uncomfortable; I am an introvert by nature and I worked in sales for twenty years. Now, I am building my brand (scary because the product I’m representing is me)and developing my voice (fun, but putting yourself out there is scary) via my blog and other freelance writing gigs are all things that are uncomfortable, but at the same time empowering. I can’t remember where I know this from, but there was a book or something that said “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. So very true. I reblogged this post because it applies to more than writing. I’m so glad you’re back.

  28. Reblogged this on Monique Egelhoff and commented:
    Doing what we find uncomfortable is necessary for growth whether you are a writer or not. Kristen is spot on with this post. I share it with you and hopefully you will get inspired to get uncomfortable. It’s so empowering!

  29. I have spent years living on the cusp…the cusp of all aspects of writing. It’s comfortable on the cusp because nothing has to ACTUALLY be done, just contemplated. Now I’m on the cusp of leaping into the writer’s abyss, comfort be damned.

  30. Hmmm, my reply to your post (#34) has a notation “Your comment is awaiting moderation”. What does that mean? Am I the only one who can see this notation (or my reply)? Was it too long? If so, sorry but I like to give kudos where and when needed and, Kristen, YOU ROCK!

  31. Of all the great tips and advice here, this is the one that really resonated with me – Just do it. Every day write down something that would possibly be a game-changer…then do it FIRST. I have a tendency to check e-mail, blogs, etc, first and I need to be more focused on the one thing I should accomplish that day to advance my career.

  32. Fantastic post Kristen! I will say though that my pets do ask a lot. I probably have the most demanding bunny and Miss Jedi is now a fixture on my desk while I write because she wouldn’t leave me alone! But you are absolutely right with this. In fact, we have similar stories. I took a workshop with Bob and tried to talk to him as much as possible. I guess he liked me instead of finding me annoying and that is how I published my first book. And then I met you. Taking risks is how we succeed. You never know how something will turn out if you don’t ask!

  33. When printing press was invented, all the manuscript writers/copiers must have though end of an era. Publishing evolves with the emerging technology. It is there to stay as long as people has appetite for information & reading entertainment.

  34. These last three years on my writing journey have been lessons in overcoming discomfort and fear. First writing, then blogging, then Twitter. All great stuff, but all done while safely ensconced in my cozy writing nook. So, now I’m stepping into the shark-infested waters (to me) of meeting other writers in person at a con in June. I’m excited to actually meet people I’ve “talked to” only on blogs and Twitter and also terrified. But I know this is something I need to do – and I’m gonna do it.

    • Myndi stray sock away from insanity. on May 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm
    • Reply

    Great post, Miss Thang. Totally agree – the comfort zone is just a really well-lined cushy coffin.

    • Karen McFarland on May 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm
    • Reply

    Kristen, I am convinced, had it not been for your blogging class and books, I wouldn’t be blogging today. And I’m starting my seventh month! No, it’s not easy. Especially when “Life” happens and throws us a curve. I’m grateful for all MYWANA friends that have been a tremendous support! I told Bob Mayer in one of his classes that I am instictively persistent. What I want to know is, “What is a comfort zone?” I’m not knowing about this comfort zone thing. LOL! 🙂

  35. Thanks for this post, Kristen. I read this, then thought yeah! I should just ask…and sent an email to an author I admire and wanted to interview for my blog. She said yes :-). It’s a small step, but it’s all one step at a time right?

  36. I think this is fabulous advice – all of it! (As is the comment that Piper is committed to excellence; I was just reading her latest post before this!) I really want to steal this line from you (but I won’t! Pinky swear): “In fact a lot of creepy stuff that involves the fire department cutting you out of your house happens when you get too comfortable.” I have a TERRIBLE habit of slacking off when it comes to my writing goals, but I am trying to do more things that scare me (like attending my first blogging conference in August – BlogHer in Manhattan).

    • ctcharles on May 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Kristen,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and I find your opinions on traditional publishing, indie publishing, and the new paradigm insightful and thought provoking. I particularly enjoyed today’s post and found myself nodding enthusiastically while reading it.
    I decided to finally go and buy your books, and came across something that troubled me, particularly because it seems counter to all you are espousing on your blog.
    At Cool Gus Publishing, the print version of your books is $4.99, yet the eBook version is $14.99. Whereas if I go to amazon, it is the opposite: $4.99 for kindle version, $14.99 for print. The latter seems to make more sense. Why would an electronic version of a book be more expensive than print? And so much more so? From my reading online, that seems to be a ‘Big Six’ publishing house tactic, and not beneficial to the author.
    Could this be just a typographical error on the publishing house’s site or am I completely misunderstanding things?

    1. Actually that is a mistake if that is the case. It should be $14.99 for the print and $4.99 for the e-book. I know they have been rebuilding the web site to transition from WDW to CGP so it might just be an error. I will check it out.

        • ctcharles on May 23, 2012 at 6:55 pm
        • Reply

        Thanks for checking. Looks like it’s been fixed. Off to buy, read, and learn… 🙂

  37. You are so very correct, Kirsten! Being poke and prodded and having psychic needles shoved under our writerly fingernails is what we need!

  38. First of all Rush and Lady Gaga on tour together. The masks and strange costumes will truly cause a stir. And Lady Gaga will attract attention. The main thing about the job of writing is: Jump in it. Keep moving until you’re done. When the dust clears then look at it what you’ve made and fix it. Repeat until the voice in your head has shut down.

  39. It’s interesting that you covered this topic since the whole conference is out of my comfort zone! LOL. Actually, some marvelous friends made it very easy to be hobnobbing with numerous writers and agents when my natural bent would be to hang out around the perimeter and collect information like a field researcher catching butterflies when they dared to fly in my direction. But I’m past-40 and paying for this conference, so I determined to get out of my comfort zone and make the most of it. The MyWANA group was amazing for helping me do just that, not to mention that they are F-U-N! If I keep hanging around y’all, I might increase my MQ (Moxie Quotient) as well. Great post, Kristen!

    • Jordan McCollum on May 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm
    • Reply

    Great advice! I always set goals for myself to get “out there” more, and connect more with people (not just publish new blog posts, you know?), but I haven’t been able to make the habit stick yet. Time to recommit myself!

  40. Excellent post. You have a very strong voice and I found myself chuckling a few times. Thank you!

  41. So true Kristen. Some of my best writing has resulted from stepping outside my comfort zone.

  42. I love this post. It’s so true. There are so many times I’ve wanted to not write, but I just have to suck it up and write. It might be trash, but often there are little gems to pick out from that trash.

  43. Great blog, Kristen, and I totally agree. Comfort does not go along with a writing career. It’s challenging evey step of the way. I can attest to challenge. I’m fighting my 8th cancer (since 1986) and refuse to give in. Writing keeps me on my toes and my mind busy. Happy to hear that Amazon is branching out into bookstores. They too, are taking an uncomfortable step. Keep blogging.

  44. I love your humor–you get me to read my medicine with a sugar coating, i.e. “Comfort and lazy are close cousins.” Ow, didn’t want to be reminded of that. I’ve been avoiding ‘eating that frog’ all week and now this! Thanks for another informing/motivational post.

  45. Thank u for another excellent post. My entire journey as a self-pub author has been a continuous challenge of FORCING myself to do stuff that totally freaks me out. And yes, sometimes the answer was no. (Or are u nuts?) And then other times, it has been yes yes yes. There are things that come easily to me – like blogging. And Facebook. Twitter was a mystery to me. But I tried it and now its one of the most powerful tools I have for connecting with people. I hate asking for stuff. But if you dont ask – then the answer is always no. A super scary thing for me was the day I decided to take a copy of my book trailer and a book brief blurb into the local TV station office. I smiled a lot, explained who I was etc, asked them to at least look at the trailer. (shaking inside) They not only looked at the trailer, they then played it on TV, included my book launch in their evening news AND had me in to do an interview. Time and again, clawing my way out of my comfort zone has made things happen for my book and my path as a writer.

  46. Of COURSE your advise is not misguided. Like your blogs or hate them, they are always honest and filled with valid suggestions for help to authors; authors at all levels of writing. Keep telling it like it is!

  47. Welcome back!

  48. As always, you are right on. Thanks, I think, for the smack about the head and shoulders.

  49. Very timely post. I’m getting ready to send out query letters for my first novel. Definitely scary, but necessary. I like the response you gave regarding tradtional and self-publishing. I will try for the agent, but am open to the indie route. Right now, both are scaring me to death.

    • malindalou on May 23, 2012 at 8:36 pm
    • Reply

    For me, being comfortable=being in a scary spot. I purposely make myself uncomfortable in business.

    • skewednotions on May 23, 2012 at 9:02 pm
    • Reply

    I can’t tell you how much I needed this post.

  50. Kristen, you have certainly propelled me out of my comfort zone way sooner than I was ready for – I am very glad you did! At the same time, there is a little voice that says there is such as thing as being too far outside the comfort zone. For me it is always a question of where that too far line is, so it doesn’t send me back to the dark ages…

    1. Well, frankly, this is why we need to get out of the CZ more often. A lot of times what we think is some HUGE leap of faith really isn’t that big of a deal. Our sensors get more accurate the more we do it.

  51. I kept thinking about those blog posts while I was at the conference. The messages from DFW were loud and clear. I truly appreciated the advice everyone was sharing and after speaking with all the presenters I saw was amazed at how open and giving each of them were with more advice and genuine interest. I hope it was as motivating for them as it was for us attendees.

    Kristen, it was awesome meeting you, and Spawn! He’s adorable. Thank you for letting me crash lunch on monday and workshopping with me. I appreciate it beyond words. Best people at the conference were WANAs! Thank you!

  52. Kristen, glad you’re back. I loved your blog post. I fight with myself on a daily basis to step out of my comfort zone. I was taught never to speak to strangers and on social media, there are thousands. It’s hard to know who’s friend and who could be a possible foe. One thing I’ve learned from reading your blog and the comments is, there are far more friends out there than foes. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and started my own blog. I comment on Facebook and Twitter and already have several followers and several I follow. I’ve finally figured out how to use most of TweetDeck and I now think it’s pretty wonderful (until recently, I thought it was some kind of sick joke).

    Your books helped me SO much, I can’t thank you enough. When does your next one come out? (I don’t mean to apply pressure…well…maybe a little.) I know I’m way behind on learning all this social media stuff, but as fast as it changes, I think we’re all a little behind. Also, I stepped out of my comfort zone again and sent off my young adult manuscript to a couple of publishers and I have a list of others who I’m going to honor with it. It’s a scary world out there, but because of your encouragement and advice I’m moving forward instead of standing still in my comfort zone.

    1. Tweet Deck will be far easier if you connect with the WANAs at #MyWANA. Then you know some of the kids on the digital playground and they can introduce you around ;). I am working on my newest social media book and will let y’all know when it will be ready for sale. September is my goal.

  53. I think there’s a difference between being uncomfortable and doing something that’s absolutely against your will/principles. One is good, one is bad.
    I for one am really lazy and love my comfort zone. It’s probably the reason why my writing is my hobby and I’m not at all professional.
    I’m probably scared, but I make the nice excuse that I don’t really want to write to earn money haha. I would much rather just write because I love writing.
    That said, recently I kicked myself in the butt and put myself on a writing schedule. I was honest with myself, if I don’t have a schedule, I don’t write. Now I have 3 writing assignments, 2 a week and 1 every month. It’s working out good so far. Though I’m running out of willpower and material.

    I think I’m slightly losing track of my point of this comment, haha. That happens all the time.
    I think what I’m trying to say is that I often lose motivation and then go back into my comfort zone/being lazy.

    • Yvette Carol on May 24, 2012 at 1:41 am
    • Reply

    Welcome home Kristen!! Talk about coming back with a bang Ha ha. Phew, maybe I’d better reconsider tweeting and blogging huh? I’m scared enough as it is right now, just commenting on other people’s blogs. What a dweeb. 🙂
    Thankfully I have your book so will go forward armed with that!
    Yvette Carol

  54. I had a policy I used to (and sometimes still do) chant to myself, which is: “Don’t try, don’t get”, or “Don’t ask, don’t get”, which ever applies to the situation. Sure, trying, or asking, might result in failure, but if you never tried, or asked, then the answer/result will always be a ‘no’. With effort, or a question, you just might get a ‘yes’. I can see which side of that has greater odds.
    Every time one of us writerly types asks another person (esp a person with an interest in writing themselves) for their opinion on our work we are stepping out of our comfort zone – we’re risking someone telling us our work isn’t, in fact, awesome. But, if we want to improve, if we want to reach that professional level, we must do it.
    And, if social media is the way forward in publishing, then it has to be tackled. It is a tough game. Social media is hard – “But, I’m boring. No one wnats to read what I had for breakfast”, maybe not. But, maybe they would love to know what you’re reading righ tnow. Or, maybe they’d just love the chance to ask you a question …
    One thing about stepping out of the comfort zone – so often what’s in your head is so much scarier than what’s actually out there.
    I also think discomfort fuels creativity.
    In brief, I agree.

    • becca puglisi on May 24, 2012 at 6:24 am
    • Reply

    Ooooh, this is such great advice. The ‘don’t do anything you don’t want to do’ philosophy is right up there with ‘everyone gets a trophy’, in my book. It’s popular because it makes people feel good and doesn’t require any effort. Granted, we can’t do everything; indie authors, in particular, have to choose where they’re going to invest their time. But to figure that out, you’ve got to try a lot of avenues–find what’s a waste of your time and what you really need to be doing. Thanks, Kristen!


    • lynnfranklin on May 24, 2012 at 7:53 am
    • Reply

    Got in late last night after pushing myself to do something scary — approach shop owners in the town where my new mystery is set and asking them to put a poster in the window and hand out bookmarks. This, from an introspective writer who couldn’t sell Girl Scout Cookies. But I’ve devoured both of Kristen’s books, plus my two-time Pulitzer Prize winning husband claims his success stemmed from always steering into what frightened him the most. So there I was, trembling but smiling.

    And you know what? Every single person I met agreed to help sell my book! And when I arrived home, Amazon reported that while I was away, I’d sold seven books.

    So now I’ll soak my aching feet and get ready to do it all again.

    Oh, and before Kristen squawks, I promise to change my gravatar from the book cover to my photo later today.

    Seriously, Kristen, thank you for all of your advice and sharing. You have been an amazing help.

    1. YIKES!! Change to a picture of ME???? Let the world see my gray hair and wrinkles??

      1. Ah, c’mon. You can do it!

  55. Great post! Everyday I hop on Twitter, my palms sweat and my toes clench. I’d prefer to curl up and sleep all day on the couch right next to the dog, but everyday your WANA book pushes me out my comfort zone, and everyday my writer platform grows just a little more. Thanks for the push!

  56. Welcome back Kristen, I hope you are feeling rejunvenated. I have been following your blog for about a month and I love it! Thank you for being so generous with your knowlege and talent. I have recently finished my first book and am just beginning to learn the business of writing. Your blog is a great help and motivator, many thanks Abby

    • DeeAnna Galbraith on May 24, 2012 at 9:58 am
    • Reply

    Moved to a small town 18 months ago and volunteered to help for their first arts festival. Ended up contacting eight local authors who gave writing workshops or a panel. Gave my own workshop and loved the response. Offered an editing service item for the festival’s silent auction and it was won by a local small publisher. If she likes my work, I can end up contracting for her. Also giving an expanded workshop in a larger town at their writer’s conference this fall. Terrifying, but worth it.


  57. I go out of my comfy zone when I meet groups of writers and talk to them, and it is even harder when you have Asperger’s as communication is the main attribute to AS. I go out of my zone by commenting on here because I’m not normally an outgoing person. But I think you have to do these things to get yourself and your brand known, otherwise you will come unstuck and unsold. This morning I met my epublisher and we talked over my first romance story coming out next month. I actually had an idea for a cover design for each story in the series and she agreed with it. Hey. She listened. I don’t normally come out with ideas but she listened and we agreed on it. She loves my work, which was a bonus and helped, too.

  58. Well of course! Why would they spread the message “don’t worry about marketing your book online if you’re not comfortable with it”? So they can keep the upper hand and keep leading people on to believe that they need a traditional publisher to succeed.

    Anyone who’s been in business before knows that you’re constantly stretched outside of your comfort zone. You’re always learning new things to build the business. And being a writer is like having your own business…except a lot of people still haven’t realized that.

    Great post, and I’m happy to hear that you predicted the Waterstones JV. I wonder when US bookstores will make the move to try something similar.

  59. Kind of shocking how disparate reality is from the conventional wisdom in the upper echelons. Great post, Kristen. There are things I like and dislike about Twitter and Facebook and the social media game, but that’s not really the issue is it? It’s all essential. Any argument that pretends otherwise is disqualified on account of hailing from the 20th Century.

  60. Fate can’t smile on us if we don’t throw our names in the hat. We throw our names in the hat by asking. Thanks for the shout out, and for being part of Team Excellence. 🙂

    1. Ditto on this comment (and p.s. We LOVE smacking people around! 🙂 )

  61. And I was so loving the idea of blowing off my blog and forgetting my promise to myself to get more twittery. You’re so mean!

    • Brianna Soloski on May 25, 2012 at 10:43 am
    • Reply

    I agree with every single thing in this post. That being said, I think everyone steps out of their comfort zone at their own pace. If Twitter bothers you for six months, so be it, but don’t write it off. Find what works for you and go with your gut.

  62. You are so right. Staying in comfort zone does not achieve results. I have just self-published my first book. I had to get into Facebook and Twitter to get noticed. I have always resisted these social media in the past. I also agree with the comment that self-publishing is hard work but probably more satisfying for a new author than traditional publishing. Thank you Kirsten.

  63. Kristen – I’m officially out of my social media comfort zone! I just started a Twitter account and am essentially clueless about how to make it work for me – not against me. How soon can I set up a session with you?

    1. Do you have Tweet Deck or Hoot Suite? Download those first. Then tweet “HELP! @KristenLamb come find me. I want to join #MyWANA. Then when you see your tweet, the #MyWANA will look clickable. Click it and a column will magically appear. I will also see you and can introduce you around. You will be tweeting like a pro in no time :D.

      1. Bet you’ll be getting a lot of those tweets–from me for sure once I get home. I am SO lost in the land of Twitter, then again my Android has me confused

        1. I still have not been able to figure out Twitter yet. May be Kristen can help!! I can understand Facebook and its updates etc which is fairly simple. One of my problems is the limitation of number of words in each post. Is there any way one can post longer posts?

  64. I really think what you’ve said here, Kristen, is the defining necessity of success! In other words, how bad do u want it and what are u willing to do that scares the crap out of u to get it?!

    For me, that was social media and technology because I used to be a Techno Dunce! Not anymore…thanks to u and your WANA book!

    Using your techniques, I’m now an Amazon and B&N Top 100 Bestselling Author and making over $100,000 this year from my Indie Epub Empire!!!

    U rock, Kristen! Thank u!

  1. […] and publishing blogs that I follow, that talked about (among other things) not being afraid to try new things and not being afraid to […]

  2. […]  Don’t miss this great post by WANA leader author Kristen Lamb. The comfort zone is for pets, not professionals. […]

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