Want to Be a Successful Writer? Ten Ways to GO PRO!

Image via Drew Coffman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Image via Drew Coffman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

We have done a lot of talking about FREE! in the past couple of months. And I will continue to boycott Huffington Post , because I believe they’re parasites who’ve helped set this industry-wide trend that writers only need to be paid with “exposure.” Owned by AOL (a.k.a. Verizon) they have the ability to pay, just don’t want to and unless writers start valuing what they do? They won’t pay.


Not until we GO PRO.

To catch up on the rant, read No More Literary Booty Calls.

But back to this “valuing what we do.” I feel one of the reasons the arts are particularly vulnerable to plundering is many writers (artists) have a chronic case of low self-esteem.

Yes, society and pop culture are partly to blame.

It seems movies cast only two types of writers—The Starving Hack and the Bazillionaire Celebrity Author. Thus, if we aren’t flying off to Paris to fact-check? People assume that, by default, we’re writing bad haiku on Starbuck’s napkins in between shooting up and borrowing money from our mom.

We Do It To Ourselves

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 9.43.37 AM

First a little test. If you are reading this and are an aspiring author raise your hand. It’s okay. No one is around. You can do it.

Got your hand up?


I love you *smooch*.

There IS no “aspiring.” Aspiring is for the weak. It takes real guts to be an author. Feel free to call yourself pre-published, but use aspiring?


Do or do not, there is no try.

Understand Consumers WANT What We Do

Self-published book and now a major motion picture. BOO-YAH!

Self-published book and now a major motion picture. BOO-YAH!

In any business, the first thing one has to determine is:

Will consumers want this?

For some strange reason, whenever I rail about PAY THE WRITER there is this knee-jerk assumption we writers are foisting something fundamentally unwanted onto the unsuspecting public and if they read our stuff they’re doing us a favor.


People want good books. If people didn’t want good books, Amazon would not have invested God knows how much into swiping the industry from the legacy publishers.

But, aside from our insecurity, the other component that undermines authors is a failure to truly GO PRO. Note I said good books. A pro doesn’t sell crap. A pro doesn’t try to get people to pay for books rife with horrific plot problems, editing mistakes, shoddy grammar and formatting that looks like it was done by a detoxing drunk.

PRO comes from the word, professional. 

But saying we want to go PRO is easier than knowing what one actually looks like. To be blunt, there are far more people “playing writer” than “going pro.” Even those of us who write for a living? It is an everyday battle against entropy. It’s really easy to wake up one day and realize you’re lying to yourself.

So I made a list. For me. For you.

I’m a giver.

I would love to say that I always did these things, but I didn’t. For a long time I was a lazy, entitled, whining slacker more in love with the idea of being a writer than actually doing the work involved. Much of this I had to learn the hard way, so I hope to up your game with these TEN WAYS TO GO PRO!

1—Pros Get Our A$$es to WORK

Writers write. We don’t write when we feel like it or when the muse strikes. Truthfully, the muse is like that fun drunken cousin who passes through and gives us a good time, but there’s no way in hell we’d ever hire the guy because he’s about as dependable as Texas weather.

Almost every morning, I am up at 4:00 a.m. Most people don’t work well that early, but I do. Fewer distractions. I always at least check in at 4 a.m. if there are any early birds who need a partner.

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This morning I had three thousand words written before 7:00 a.m. Every morning I hold writing sprints on W.A.N.A. Tribe. All morning long, we go in 40 minute bursts and there is a team for accountability and to drive and push you beyond your comfort zone. I know I am a lazy slacker so I created this to keep me accountable!


But any guess how many writers actually show for the sprints?

Usually it’s the same group of ten people out of over 2700…and I am one of them. As a group, I bet we’ve easily written a million words since we started meeting back in November. Every member of the sprinting group finished NaNoWriMo in less than 20 days.

We are still there. Five days a week 9:00 CST. Every day.

The same few people.

A huge reason most writers never make it big is simple. They don’t write.

2—Pros Write No Matter WHAT

Kristen with Shingles…and YES I still wrote.

Kristen last year with Shingles…and YES I still wrote.

2012-2015 was a living nightmare for me. Our lives had SO much go wrong, I was seriously wondering if voodoo was somehow involved and despite enduring tragedy after tragedy? I still showed up.

Even with Shingles. Hey, I was going to be in pain anyway? Might as well channel it and distract myself.

Life will go wrong and sometimes the only thing we can control is simply showing up. There will never be an ideal time to write. If one comes our way? Fabulous! But don’t count on it. Never underestimate the power of simply showing up.

3—Pros Appreciate We Are Selling a PRODUCT

Writers don’t get a pass. We are a business. We are entrepreneurs bringing a product to market. This is true no matter which publishing path we take. Some writers frown on us indie/self-published folks, but what do y’all think that query is? It’s a business proposal.

An agent is inspecting our product (book) and our brand (platform) and determining potential market value. They are asking, Can we SELL this? And, if so, How many can we sell? 

That’s it.

We now have a choice to circumnavigate gatekeepers, but we still are responsible for bringing a solid product to the marketplace. Pros know that.


Via Flickr Creative commons, courtesy of Tax Credits.

Via Flickr Creative commons, courtesy of Tax Credits.

Since we appreciate we are a product and want to make it the best out there (because we KNOW there is a crap-ton of competition), we invest in ways to make our product the best and to stand out. Since we create the product, we invest time and money in training, conferences, and classes. Once we have a product, we invest in proper editing and cover design.

We invest in things that save us time. You can either spend five years figuring out your brand or hire a pro help you do it in days (yes, I am for hire 😉 ).

I suck at organization and detail so I outsource to an assistant. My new assistant Raidon cleaned out over 67K e-mails and organized them for me.  That was almost five hours I could do blogging, writing, teaching and consulting.

Trust me. Worth every penny.

5—Pros Study the Successful

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Seriously. Most people believe that success is tremendously elusive, but if we study successful people? Most of them did a lot of the same things. I am a HUGE, HUGE fan of Mark Cuban. Every writer needs THIS book; How to Win at the Sport of Business. It’s a short audio book and cost me $5, but WOW.

So much of what he talks about can be applied to writers.

6—Pros Get Paid to Learn

Meaning? They are never “too good” to accept a job. This one really applies to the newbies starting out. In the beginning we have to earn a reputation worth paying for. In the meantime? Take every opportunity you get and knock it outta the park!

When I realized I wanted to go pro with writing? I took every writing job I could get, figuring I was being paid to learn. Whether it was copy for a chiropractor’s web site or specs for software? I did it even though some of those jobs were so boring I wanted to hurl myself in traffic. They didn’t pay much in money (not at first) but I was being paid to learn.

Every one of those jobs paid off.


Original image via Melissa Bowersock WANA Commons

Original image via Melissa Bowersock WANA Commons

We make bad calls, hire the wrong people, write bad blogs and even worse books. By failing a lot we learn what works and what is a waste of time. My failures taught me far more than “success” ever did.

Failure taught me humility and how to have staying power. It’s easy to be in the game when we’re winning, but to keep pressing after you’ve been sucker punched…then run over and then hit by lightning?

That is what separates the wanna-be’s from the pros.

8—Pros are Honest

Original Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Spasoff

Original Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Spasoff

We are only as strong as our greatest weakness. Pros are honest with where they’re failing. If the books aren’t selling and the feedback is about the writing? We take more classes and write more to put those lessons in action and hone those skills. Hire a rockstar editor.

Again, remember that I suck at organization? Took me a long time to admit that. I bought Daytimers and apps and gadgets and OH DEAR GOD I CANNOT SHOW MY FACE IN CONTAINER STORE…


I realized it ain’t gonna happen. Instead of trying to fit this round writer into a square hole? Outsource.

9—Pros Never Stop Training

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anamorphic Mike.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anamorphic Mike.

How successful would a boxer be if he sat on the couch watching inspirational movies about boxing but never actually hauled his tail into a gym? Never worked with a coach to refine technique? Never studied other boxers and their moves? Never sparred to know his weaknesses?

inhale books. If I am not at my computer working, I am reading…everything. If I am driving or cleaning or cooking? I am also listening to an audiobook. I never watch TV or movies that I am not making notes, busting apart character, plot, dialogue. Where did the story shine? Where did it fail? How would I have improved it?

Pros generally have TWO speeds.



Even “rest” serves the goals and is active.

10—Pros Understand “Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail”

Most new businesses fail because of a lack of a solid business plan. Same with writers. Which publishing path are you choosing? Why? Do you even know why? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Seriously, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to publish, but how we are going to get our product to market is a big deal.

What are your goals? Do you have this mapped out? Do you have contingency plans? Have you done a S.W.O.T. analysis? What is your marketing plan? What is your branding plan? What is your sales plan?

Back to what we started with and the whole kerfluffle of FREE!

How and WHY are we using FREE!?

One of the reasons FREE! has gotten so out of hand is that writers are not using it strategically as part of a larger sales plan.

It’s why I am offering a new class, Making Money with FREE! As a bonus for this class, my friend Jack Patterson who’s so far sold over 150,000 books to come and teach us how to ROCK the newsletter. Sign up before March 7th for $20 off. This is in excess of two hours of training and the recording (as always) comes with purchase.

Just by doing this class, you get several makes of a pro—showing up, investing, training, and learning from people who’ve already done something successfully.  I will be learning too. Instead of me writing a terrible newsletter no one wants to open and spending the next three years figuring it out? I am paying Jack to help me teach this class.

I’m no dummy 😛 .

I am very proud of all of you for even being here and reading this blog. That is the mark of a pro. Instead of watching funny videos? You are here being yelled at inspired.

What are your thoughts? Did you fall for my trick and raise your hand? I hope you didn’t leave a mark. Do you struggle with taking yourself seriously? Do you put everyone and everything ahead of your writing? Does your writing take backseat to everyone else’s wants and needs? Did you change that and see results when you started doing things PROS do?

I really DO love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of MARCH, 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.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook


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  1. Reblogged this on adaratrosclair and commented:
    Well, I certainly feel inspired! “Come on”, I tell myself, “You’re exclusively nursing your new baby, cooking, cleaning, picking up oldest kiddo from track practice, and still working on promoting your first published book, “Forbidden” AS WELL AS writing other books! Congratulations, lady. Keep it up!” *Twitch, twitch* Heh. 🙂

    1. Girl, I feel your pain. I write most of my time surrounded by my laundry, dreading the dishes and with Spawn hanging off my head. It’s a LOT of work, but it does eventually pay off. Most people can’t keep pressing to that point. You’re doing GREAT!

      1. Lol. I feel like I should be able to wear a superhero cape. I love your warrior horn helmet! Since you’re rocking that groovy look, I’m so getting a cape and taking photos with that! I love your blog, by the way. It’s so humorous and so amazingly informative! 🙂

    • Pena, Peggy on February 29, 2016 at 2:02 pm
    • Reply


    Peggy Pena

    • Newt Johnson on February 29, 2016 at 2:08 pm
    • Reply

    You are most awesome! — My copy of WE ARE NOT ALONE came in this morning, and I just downloaded RISE OF THE MACHINES. Can’t wait to be yelled at some more. Thanks for your grit and your determination and your perseverance and ….

    Well, you get the point. Thank you for being there.

    1. You FOUND a We Are Not Alone? Awesome! …and ignore that small bit about MySpace 😀 . I am writing a NEW version and I hope you love ROM. Keep in touch and let me know how it goes.

  2. I think I’ve ended up in the world of loving the idea of writing but not sitting down to actually get the job done. I’ve got an idea that I think could be a great story, but I’ve been “working” on the backgrounds to get everything set up way more then I should have. I love being able to see a list like this and see what sections I’m failing so that I can refocus and set up what I need.

    Great post.

  3. Do you have any of the WANA tribe sprints in the evening or could we start one? My job starts at 9 CST on weekdays and have Nano-esque word wars at night would be fantastic.

    1. You are always welcome to start one. I would do it but my brain is pudding by then and I am usually at Jujitsu. Just gather with a couple of the WANAs and meet. One agrees to set the timer for 40 minutes and then calls time. When everyone is finished, they have to report what they did.

  4. Excellent advice! I, too, work best in the wee hours of the morning, but do not participate in the sprints because I work midnight to 4 a.m. When you’re doing sprints, I’m working on marketing.
    I like my current cover designer’s work, but would be interested to know if you have a recommended list of marketing and/or editing people, since those are the two areas that give me fits.

    1. The sprints are not just for word count. We also use them for other tasks like creating a newsletter, making out a marketing plan. It keeps us focused. So just because you aren’t writing, the sprints could do you good. I do have recommendations. Message me on WANATribe and I can get them for you 😀 .

  5. Hey Boss, I made it into one of your blogs. I knew there was a good reason to get up early!!

  6. I love the honesty of your posts. It’s irrelevant whether we agree with every point made, the beauty of it is, that there will be SOMETHING within that list that we need to kick our ass and get a grip on.
    Thanks again for sharing your expertise. I certainly appreciate it.

  7. Every time I open my email or read the link off Facebook, you teach me something I didn’t know. S.W.O.T is a new concept for me and I have links ready to research this one now. Thanks!

    I had someone, very early on in my pro career, try to back me into a corner about my decision to go indie instead of traditional. She did it in front of my friends/family and did it loudly with a lot of castigation. I had to defend my choices in the middle of my first convention launch party and that, at the time, pissed me off greatly. But looking back on it, she did me a HUGE favor (not her intent, I guarantee you) by doing it. I had to put into words my reasoning and how I came to the decision and what I was getting out of it. And, now, instead of pissed off, I’m actually glad for it.

    Came under the heading of “Oh no, not another learning experience” but now I’m glad I did it. Lemons to lemonade (with vodka). 🙂

    Gotta go, there’s a chapter to split, a secondary storyline to continue, and some serious plotting to go into (book 4, about 22,00 and counting).

  8. Great post! You all are my heroes…writing despite all the life distractions. I need to be more like you. 🙂

  9. I do struggle to take myself seriously! But mainly because every time I think about writing ‘in order to make money’, rather than ‘writing because it’s what I do and what I enjoy and I would have been doing it anyway if it didn’t bring in money, etc.’, I get completely blocked by fear of failing and I can’t write at all. It is only until I remind myself that I started writing because well, I love it, that I can actually write again without feeling the whole world is looking over my shoulder. Several times I’ve doubted whether I can actually ever publish anything because of this, and so far I am a generally private writer.

    Even though I read through the whole thing and I loved the post and felt uplifted. I can’t help but feel instant panic when it try to look at it ‘commercially’. 🙁

  10. Glad to note that you include writing newsletters and marketing as part of the sprint. I don’t always write everyday but I work on my writing in some form everyday. Sometimes I’m editing and proofing what I wrote. Would love to just write, but have to spend time typing what I wrote and editing and editing and editing, and marketing.

  11. Thanks – I needed this! Incidentally, do you have any tips on how to know if you’re actually making progress on structural edits? Without a word-count it’s hard to know if I’m getting anywhere or just spinning my wheels.

  12. I love being yelled at by you Kristen! Always spot on 🙂 I’d attend the class but it’s way to early for me and they are so much better to attend live. I should check into WANAtribe and see if there’s a few people on in Aussie time …

    1. I’ll have to offer some Friday NIGHT classes for my Aussie friends to be able to attend Saturday morning 😀 .

      1. That would be awesome Kristen! 🙂

  13. Great points Kristen. I think I fail miserably at #2. Perhaps I should strictly schedule time.

  14. ‘Writers write. We don’t write when we feel like it or when the muse strikes.’ You said a mouthful there, Kristen. I’m an insomniac. Wonder if my little grey cells would be up to a writing experiment at four am. Do as I do, not as I say is the saying that comes to mind whenever I read one your pay the writer tirades which is why I am always impressed when each month you offer one reader/commenter a critique of the first 20 pages of their novels. Nice of you to find the time. How long have you been doing it?

    1. Been doing the 20 page thing since 2010 I think. Maybe 2011. Been doing it a few years for sure. I enjoy it. I don’t always get them back to the winner in a timely fashion, but it’s a solid edit. And when I find good stuff I forward it onto agents I know who might be interested 😀 .

      And yes, I work hard to practice what I preach.

  15. Well I nearly knocked myself out with the hand slapping.

    1. 😀

  16. I found this ridiculously helpful! I want to stop working and download your books, right now! Your enthusiasm has come out of the computer screen and slapped me on the face.

  17. Awesome article. Yes, it’s about work, not workarounds.

  18. I do work every day. I have my day job I work at. And, I write. And I sketch. And I play on social media – trying to plan an attack. I do need to make sure that I write every day, because I do not write every day. But, I do work at something besides my day job every day. (Day job has nothing in the world to do with writing or creativity, but it pays bills.)

  19. I am no longer an aspiring writer, i am UNPUBLISHED writer.
    point taken…
    That’s Great.

    1. PRE-PUBLISHED. Assume success 😉 .

  20. Kirsten, there is a bubble of privilege. When you live in it, all the laws apply. You have to be very good and work really hard, but eventually there will be some results. It may take two or five years, but it will come. But that is ONLY if you live in the bubble of privilege. Generally, you must by white, but not always, but it is a big one. You have to not have too much of a physical disability. You have to have the finances to A. have a home with electricity, B. have a computer, C. have a reliable internet connection, D. have at least a little time to write each day. Yes, D is about MONEY. No money and you can’t have D unless you give up A, B and C and food for your children. You don’t really need to eat. I know you think this is whining. You don’t realize that some people really live so close to the edge that they are already not getting much sleep even without taking time to write. When a person doesn’t live in the bubble of privilege there is no cushion, no reserve, none.

    It’s 9:00 am. I just returned from walking four miles to bring my children to school. The snow was ankle deep deep where it hasn’t been plowed from the street onto the sidewalk. The people who live in the bubble of privilege believe that sidewalks are antiquated. No one walks anymore and thus there is no reason to keep sidewalks clear. I made it through even though I have crooked bones in my legs and walking that far causes extreme pain. The fact that I’m blind and I can’t see the clumps of snow left on the sidewalk by the plow makes it a bit of a pain too. Yes, I’m not driving because I can’t see. But I got the kids to school. I got back home overjoyed that the electricity is on and by a miracle the wireless is up too. The electricity had been down for the past 14 hours and we had been without lights and the electric stove, let alone computers while you were doing your “sprints.” I got on ready to do my own sprint of writing, marketing and networking before the teaching job that feeds my children takes over my day. I got on here and you reached out and slapped me across the face because you believe those writers who don’t attend your “sprints” are whiny slackers.

    You know what? You are an entitled snob. You think there is no TRY. Well, there is. People who don’t have everything handed to them on a silver platter try all the time. I’ve published six books. A former newspaper editor I know couldn’t find any mistakes in them. My family lives on half the US poverty line. No, I cannot pay for editing or cover design. Really no. I know this is hard to get through your skull but there is a limit to how much you can strip from children before they really are in need and you can’t take more even to invest in something that MIGHT someday one-chance-in-a-thousand make some money. Advertising professionals have told me that my covers are at professional level but on the lower end of it. Even the first one I ever made which was the first graphic design project I ever did. It’s at the professional level, even if it isn’t something spectacular. They did not know me when they told a friend of mine this. There is TRY. I couldn’t afford cover design and I didn’t have a clue how to do it. I studied for three months and I damn well tried because I am not a quitter, never have been and never will be. I also have a conscience and a soul/ I am very glad that I don’t kick and slap people who are down. Because that makes me worth ten times as much as those who do such things, regardless of how much money they have or how many snobby, privileged books they sell.

    You know and I know that people like me will never be PAID to write. We are the sludge of this world. We were not born into the right class with the right privileges. My books have received only four and five star reviews. I’ve had them looked at by professionals. The are good. And they have no chance. You know it. I know it. Please stop lying and slapping people who are doing a damn good job with no help from anyone and no hope that anything will ever change. Acknowledge your incredible privilege. You are not living in a country with erratic electricity and an average wage well below the US poverty line. You don’t have disabilities that cause your work to go twice as slow as that of other people. And the fact that you have those privileges does not make your writing better. It only makes you luckier. Excuse me, madam, but you know nothing about trying.

    Thanks for the slap. You made a person slogging through mud and snow without being able to see feel awful today. Get a soul. I’m back up now and your slap is squat compared to the rest of the things I have to deal with today.

    1. I get your situation is unique, but you don’t know me so calling me an entitled snob is out of line. When I began as a writer I’d been misdiagnosed with epilepsy. I began writing because I couldn’t do anything else. When you treat people who do not have epilepsy with seizures…you give them seizures. Doctors, thinking I had epilepsy gave me more medicine to control seizures…giving me more seizures. I lost everything and had to move in with my mother who was blind and we had six cats between us and no money. We ate packages of cheap crackers with a small bit of sausage and fed that same mixture to the cats, because we couldn’t afford cat food.

      Most of the clothes I wore I found in a Dumpster outside of our apartment after a dealer had a fight with his girlfriend and threw her clothes away. We lived in a horrible place, where the DEA routinely raided apartment units being used to cook meth or run prostitution. Within the first year of wanting to be a writer, I had a nasty fall and got a forth degree sprain and tore my big toe in half. I wasn’t able to walk for four months, even though we lived in a third floor apartment. I was in a boot (borrowed) for almost six months. To this day I have never recovered the ability to wear closed shoes.

      I began getting my writing “jobs” by talking to the people around me. Many of them were on parole and they needed to write letters to a judge to plead their cases but were functionally illiterate. I traded my ability to write a solid letter on their behalf for things I needed. I didn’t have a computer either. It’s called a yellow pad and pen and then I used a library for a computer.

      I was drowning in medical bills from years of experts telling me I had epilepsy. It was not at all uncommon for the power to be shut off. To this day if I walk in and the lights aren’t on, I panic. Since I was young and had a college degree, whenever I asked for any kind of government assistance, I was laughed at. I was once approved for food stamps…a whole $25 a month. When I tried to get a job at grocery stores or fast food places they saw I had a college degree and laughed at me. But, the professional jobs wouldn’t hire me because an “epileptic” was too high risk.

      My family (all but my mother) who could have helped me didn’t. They didn’t understand I COULDN’T get a regular job. They lectured me that I could work at a grocery store and didn’t believe me when I said they wouldn’t hire me. When I decided to become a writer, they didn’t speak to me for three years, so it wasn’t like I could go to them for help.

      I lived for FIVE YEARS in an apartment complex filled with gang members and drug dealers. If I walked the dog, I had to be careful about the needles. I had to go to the church for assistance with food and three Thanksgiving dinners were donations from the congregation. I finally honed my ability to edit and started getting small jobs editing and doing copy. This allowed me and my mother to eat meat that didn’t come from a can. And this is just a SMALL slice of where I was for many years.

      So stop treating me like a trust fund baby. It is pissing me off.

      Now, you are articulate, you’ve written books and I assume your comments weren’t translated from messages off pigeons. Every comment I get is you feeling sorry for yourself and wailing how everyone has it better. I grant that those who are at the poverty line and who suffer disabilities and illness have a far tougher time. I know. Been there. Was there a long time. But don’t act like you know me and your greatest disability is your self-pity.

      I need to grow a soul? I offer millions of words of education for free because I remember where I came from. I pay out of my own pocket to maintain WANATribe for people like you who can’t join a regular writing group either because of money or disabilities or no car. I give everything I have to help writers who are struggling because I remember how awful it was to be alone and to have nothing and little to no help.

      Get off the pity pot. It is unbecoming.

      1. Stating the facts about the way an industry works is not “wailing” or a “pity pot.” These are facts. There have been times, very brief moments, when a few people could fall up through the cracks. Maybe you did that. It’s possible. But then you would know that it was a bizarre fluke and not a recipe other people can follow. If you came from that you would still know the many other hard-working people who were in the same shoes as you and did the same kinds of hard work and who got nothing for it. Didn’t you know anyone else at the time? I’ve been in far worse places than I am now and I left a lot of good people behind who couldn’t pull themselves out of those holes because they just plain weren’t as lucky as me. I was lucky many times in my life, and yes, I worked hard too. If I hadn’t been busting butt the whole time, the luck wouldn’t have mattered. But it is unbecoming to claim that you did it all yourself and that everyone who doesn’t have what you have is just not as committed or as hard working. I have far from self pity. The life I have is pretty good comparatively. But if you’ve studied the industry and history, you know that the vast majority of excellent writers who are not wealthy will never be heard from. Admit it and stop harping on your ego trip about how everyone who isn’t successful is really a slacker. I have very little problem with living my life, writing because writing is awesome and never being paid or known. I do have a problem with being called a slacker and a hack.

        1. Well then what is your suggestion? I say we all cut our wrists and QUIT. When you write any advice, you don’t write for the strange outlier. Of course people fall through the cracks. What exactly am I supposed to do about that? I have had more than several posts that landed me with national attention calling me all kinds of names because I am railing against an industry that exploits artists and I am using the platform I built to help change that.

          I “get” there is a degree of luck in everything. Why do you think I work my ass off to give back? I promote new authors and new bloggers. Let them post here. I run a 20 page contest every month. When I find good writing? I pass it on to an agent.

          I never claimed I “did it all myself.” I have had many posts on here regarding mentors. But you know what? Hard work has this amazing way of opening up “opportunity.” I blogged to the ether for TWO years. Lucky to have 40 hits a day, but trust me, people were paying attention. When eventually a post went big? I had two years of archives. People took me seriously because I kept working even with no promise of a pay-off and I sure as hell didn’t blog about how society was keeping me down.

          I use my talent, my money and my time to help those people “lost through the cracks.” And the truth is, I have dealt with many people with a similar story as yours and gave them a chance…and they were a giant pain in the ass. There were really good reasons they were where they were. They were lazy, didn’t follow instructions and had a generally poor attitude. Not to mention utter incompetence.

          The first one, I bought a computer, paid for everything she needed, including a trip to LA to help me at RWA Nationals…where she no-showed with no e-mail, no call, no nothing. She had no problems taking the $1000 trip, but decided “acting was more for her future” and spend her time in LA reconnecting with old friends in the movie business. She is very lucky I didn’t sue her @$$ off.

          The second one was paid well, offered all kinds of benefits and the week before WANACon? Deleted all his social profiles and disappeared only to be heard from a year later. His life was just “too much.” So he couldn’t give notice to the person who’d been paying him for a year?

          The third and LAST of my “offering opportunity” positions? He was so incompetent, my tech guy and I spent thousands of dollars and countless hours un-fu&^%N the mess he’d made.

          So there is a really, really good reason a lot of these folks never “get a break.” They get them, but they don’t run with them. Their poor character is very often why are where they are. I didn’t trust my gut. I wanted to give back. I felt “guilty” for my “luck.” But no more.

          I never said, “everyone.” I said “many.” Do you have any idea how many writers I have personally worked with? THOUSANDS. Many of them I even helped with their novels only to follow up and hear, “Oh, that. I just can’t find the time.” I ran a writing group for seven years and the reason I finally gave up was I was tired of driving 90 minutes when gas was $4 a gallon to be the only person who bothered showing. Many of the members lived WALKING DISTANCE, but I was taking what little money I had and driving to be there, to help and support.

          To sit by myself.

          And everyone knows the vast majority of writers never become wealthy. Guess what? Most new business owners go bankrupt after three years. 70% of restaurants fail. Writing is a tough gig. If you don’t like it? Don’t let the door hit you in the ass and go learn accounting or computer programming.

          You, Madam were out of line. You don’t get to come on here and call me names, tell me I am specially privileged and that I don’t have a soul.

    • jenniferfusco on March 1, 2016 at 10:51 am
    • Reply

    I love this, and I will be re-posting, my love!

    • Samuel Murphy on March 1, 2016 at 12:41 pm
    • Reply

    Kristen, I have only recently been following you and your blog. Maybe I pushed a wrong button somewhere, or maybe I just liked your helmet. Regardless, a nice blog it is. And while I normally don’t like to share (although, it’s nice to share), here is a very short excerpt of something I wrote on my own experiences.

    So here you are, all excited and duly proud of yourself for having completed something that you devoted weeks, months, even years to and you can’t even get your sister to buy one and give it a five star rating on Amazon. You should be having this HUGE celebration with all your friends. Instead, you’re fumbling around like a teenager in the back seat of your old man’s Chevy, trying to add some kind of Pin to a Board on a site that you REALLY don’t care about, and then Googling one inactive “Will review your book for free” site after another. And it’s TWO O’CLOCK IN THE GODDAMN MORNING!

    But you’ve checked your numbers and you’re 497,364 in Amazon’s Bestseller Ranks. So you text and you tweet. You create a fan page. You blog. You Skype. You Pin, You try and stay LinkedIn, and you Tumble. You contact every “friend” you have, and have them contact every “friend” they have, and every “friend” they have, and so on down the line. “Yes,” they say, “I’ll get me a copy of that new book you just published. I’m gonna read it, review it, and give it a whole passel of stars.” Two days later and now you’re 798,621. in Amazon’s Bestseller Ranks.

    And so you text and tweet some more looking for support and ideas. But as much advice as you get; you write. I consider myself a writer. I have stories inside of me waiting to bust out. Having them stay there while I attend to other business only makes them fester and this will ultimately lead to some really bad juju.

    By nature I am not a tweeter or a texter, a Pinner, or Tumbler. I don’t try to StumbleOnto anything, I don’t understand Instagram, and never figured out how to be LinkedIn. Don’t much care for Skyping, and I secretly hate all of my “friends” on Facebook.

    1. I get you. My first book only later went to #1. I had no platform when I started. My first royalty check? I could buy gum 😛 .Part of how I teach social media is you don’t have to do it alone. You have a team. If you can’t get good on social media then up your game and write a LOT of books. Content is King in this new age. Great to meet you! And thank you for the thoughtful comment ((HUGS)).

  21. I’m getting up at 5:40 to see my 9th grader off to school and make her lunch bento. I know she’s old enough, but it’s our ritual. HOWEVER, I could get up a bit earlier and write with you – if I make to bed early enough. That’s always a challenge. Furthermore, I keep getting my head stuck in publishing. Formatting a book has that hypnotic quality to it, and then my head hurts and I feel fried, and writing? Uh… it’s generally not productive. Better than nothing, but there’s sand in those gears. So maybe I should write first, then edit or publish or do various publicity tasks, most of which are probably overrated anyway. Do you seriously get to bed, lights out, by ten? Wow.

    1. Not always. Just body wakes me early. I should be there in the morning. We do what is actually called a BLACKOUT and I am going to post on it. It is 40 minutes of FOCUS but then you have to tell what you did. So you can spend your Blackout editing, formatting, whatever, but the focus time makes a MAJOR difference.

  22. So refreshing!! I am muddling along at the moment, with a wiggly waggy brand, but my focus is on writing good books, being real on social media (I have Rise of the Machines), and trying to get a better paying fiction gig. 🙂 I love what you say about failing. That makes me feel so much better! Great post. You speaketh my language!

  23. “Do or do not, there is no try.” – Kristen Lamb, Jedi Knight for authors 🙂

    This was a very motivating post. I’ve only been following your blog for a few months, I don’t believe I’ve ever commented before, but I love reading your posts. You light a fire under many butts to get them going and you do it with grace and humor.

    I’ve read ROM and loved it. For me, it was an “OMG! This is what I’ve been looking for!” moment. I’m trying to implement the things you suggest and will probably read it again (and again) because it has so much information.

    Anyway, thank you for all the info and I look forward to your next post.

    1. Wow! Awesome! I hope you put that in a review. Going to cut and paste this for you know…THOSE days, LOL. Great to meet you and happy you are here. Thanks for commenting!

    • Mais on March 2, 2016 at 12:47 am
    • Reply

    I do love getting yelled at by you. It pushes me further. I find that the best thing to do is to keep my wheel of thought turning at every possible occasion, even when I’m not writing, in order to generate more thoughts that I will be able to write down once I do grab the pencil. This is my first novel and I’m in the planning process. It’s all very new to me but I do learn so much from you. Sometimes I get nervous and overwhelmed, but I remind myself to enjoy the learning process and channel everything positively. I find that the thought of marketing my novel bothers me, most probably because I strongly dislike social media (I’m in my early 20’s but what can I say?). But I do take heed of what you say and will think about it as the novel progresses. Thank you for all your hard work and advice. I truly, truly appreciate it.

  24. A brilliant article, Kristen. I did actually resolve to wake up at 4:00 to write, but my procrastination has ruined that. Some really useful tips. I don’t have a blog, but I am going to share this to my Facebook timeline.

    1. I had considered waking up earlier, but if I get less than 5 hours of sleep, I don’t function well. And when I get chronically underslept, I worry about poking my seizure disorder awake. I did get 2 sessions in, though, between 7 and 8:20!

  25. Dear Ms Lamb.
    Nice work, appreciated.
    I was born in Manchester England on the 13th of March 1944 and live in Germany with my German-born wife and family.

    You wrote: People want good books. If people didn’t want good books, Amazon would not have invested God knows how much into swiping the industry from the legacy publishers.

    My answer: What Amazon knows about good books (and how to sell them) and what comes out of a cow’s back passage is …. And why is Amazon known to have the biggest slush pile (that they put out for sale) in the publishing business, a business they know bugger-all about.

    You also wrote: Fifteen years ago, when I first got this brilliant idea to start writing fiction, I didn’t do any planning. I knew zip nada about the craft, and, frankly, was too stupid to know I was that dumb.

    Well, well, that was me too, also fifteen years ago. A good friend told me not to bother writing, he said nothing more, so I decided to find out what he meant.
    I won’t say that my writing has improved as I’m no expert, but my grammar has.

    I suffered, in a mild way compared to others, a stroke in 2008, a TIA (look it up). They call them mini-strokes, earlier they referred to them as ‘dizzy spells’. Physically I’m on the edge of nowhere … Mentally, I get easily confused, I’m often forgetful, but it hasn’t affected my writing as I edit for a friend in America.

    So, why do I write.
    Not to get rich, I can do that selling pot, or as I have done by playing the lotto (recommended).
    I write to entertain myself and in turn entertain others.
    I had 90+ e-books on Amazon, selling well, a check every monthe money coming into my bank account … That was until they came along with their ‘pages read scam’. My sales dwindled to nothing.(One last sale 8th Feb 2016)
    Now I have no e-books there. I am in the process of editing/formatting my books for Create Space and … I’ve sold a couple.

    There is one thing I will not do and that is pay to be published or anything concerned with it.
    (I just thought I’d mention that.)

    E-book sales are dropping, paper book sales are picking up again. Why, I suppose it’s the price of e-books vs. the price of a real book. The price of a paperback has dropped, especially self-published ones.
    E-books are a convenient way to carry a library around (until your Kindle breaks down after the guarantee runs out and your library vanishes with it). Paper books are more durable. People/intelligent readers who know what to look for in a book (and don’t just look at the words like some yo-yo’s do) and value books, are turning back the pages on e-books … That is why I’m turning to paper publishing.

    I write sci-fi, fantasy, crime and tales of the Holocaust.

    William Stephen Taylor.

    1. Actually, Amazon is smart not to judge ahead of time what is good. It lets consumers do that. 50 Shades sold millions and millions of copies and NYC would have never looked at it had it not been a money-maker. Granted, Amazon has a new problem with too much content and an overwhelmed consumer, but that is another blog.

      You don’t have to be part of Kindle Unlimited. That is the only part that you are paid by the page.

      As far as paper books being stronger than e-books, that is an outright lie perpetuated by the NYC-biased media. This numbers were calculated from traditional (legacy) figures and guess what? When you price an e-book the same as paper? Consumers either don’t buy at all or they get the paper. Those numbers are not accounting for the sharp rise in sales of indie and self-published authors.

      Thanks for stopping by and the thoughtful comment! Great to meet you 😀

  26. A great kick in the A%*.

    • Jed Diamond on March 2, 2016 at 4:47 pm
    • Reply

    Kristin, I’ve been a professional writer (non-fiction) since my first book (Inside Out: Becoming Your Own Man) came out in 1983. Everything you wrote resonates with me. If we don’t see writing as a business and we don’t see ourselves as pros, we will continue to be undervalued and used by those who want to “give us a platform” in exchange for our hard-won wisdom. I offered to give my plummer such a platform when I needed my toilet fixed (after all I’m a well-known person in town) and fixing mine would allow him to better promote his work. He laughed and wanted me to pay upfront.

    You might add, though it use it throughout everything you write. We must keep a sense of humor through this journey we are all on together.

    Thanks for your continuing professionalism, pride, and power.

  27. Everything that has been ‘said’ on here I take in and digest…even the rude, inappropriate remarks. This blog and all the extremely helpful content has helped me tremendously and I thank you for that, Kristen! I really understand the Samuel Murphy comment above, because that’s where I’m at. But that is progress from where I was a year ago! And I am thankful for that! People should remember that you don’t have to go to someone’s site, you don’t have to read…but if you do, that does not give you the right to be abusive in speech or actions. Thank you for all your help, Kristen!

  28. Every time I read one of your posts I feel like I grow just a little bit. I really want to get better at the technical aspect of writing and it’s about time I stopped sitting and started researching!

  29. Going pro is an attitude above all else. If money is what you seek, you have to do the things that make money. If you want to be a pioneer, you may not make a dime, but you must go like a pro into the wilderness. Sometimes alone. I would not have it any other way. We all have choices in how we respond to trials and suffering. We set the direction for our own lives.

    I am a nurse turned clown/magician because I found a hint of something unique when I used a simple magic trick to lighten the burden of a patient once. The more I did it, the more I felt the impact one small creative act of kindness could do to alleviate suffering with art. Performing magic for patients became a central concept that I have embraced as a purpose worthy of starving for. It was a healing act for myself as well as for the patients. I stepped away from the safety of the herd to blaze my own trail at magicnurse.com. Four years later, I am still in the weeds but I am never turning back. This clown is off the reservation forever. I could not be happier.

    Patch Adams (the real one) says to “Chase your wildest dreams!” If you do not already have goals in your life that drive your forward, you are either ignoring the gifts you have, or chasing someone else’s dream.

    Kristen is giving back from the scars of her journey, and using colorful words to inspire. If these words do not speak to you, they are not meant for you.

    Love yourself first, and be happy you are alive. Everything else will work out after that.

    1. I need a <3 button!

  30. As always, loved it! Now let me BRAG a bit: I’m a mother staying with her child 24/7 (husband works like 24/7). I work as a translator from home, do secretary work for my husband, get woken up like 4-5 times a night by my boy, AND I write or edit every morning. I read every day even if it’s while mopping with the other hand. Well, fitness classes had to suffer, haven’t had a work out in a thousand years, but hey, a pre-published author gotta do what a pre-published author gotta do. The REASON I’M TELLING ON THIS IN A COMMENT? Oh, none, just bragging, LOL.

  31. On my third read of this article; I’m considering printing it and pinning it above my desk at home. On top of being incredibly helpful, it also makes me realize that I still procrastinate too much about writing. I do find excuses… too tired, too something. Mostly it’s the idea of sitting at a computer to write after a day spent at the computer for work. I do have a notebook in my purse at all times but I can’t seem to pull it out once I’m home.
    So thanks for the slap (because I did it might as well play the game fully) and kick in the butt. It was, is and will be needed once in a while. Now I need to figure out how to reblog this 😉 .

  32. Of everything I’ve read here, this is the most helpful to writers. All of your other work, building a platform, authors getting paid, none of it has meaning if writers never write. And not just writing, writing things people want to read.

    Most writers never get rich and famous but an awful lot of people make a living writing. They are the ones who produce. They may never have a best seller but they have a full catalog of work that makes them money that when combined equals a living wage.

    One of the biggest mistakes I believe writers make is that they look for the single best seller instead of looking at writing like any other profession. If you look at writing as a profession, rather than a chance to win the lottery, you can make a living at it. No one excepts a lifetime of security from one shift at a factory but so many writers seem to think they just need one book and they will be set for life.

    Get to work. Write and keep writing. That is how you build a library people will continue to buy and how you will continue to pay your bills with your writing. You don’t have to be Patterson, Konrath does just fine.

    Sorry, this turned into a rant not entirely related to your original post after I read the very rude comment you received above. But for the love of all that is holy, it’s not that hard.

    1. I love your rants 😀 .

  33. Loved this! I’m leaving this up on my iPad for further analysis of key points.

  34. Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.

  35. Thank you for this great reminder.

  36. Reblogged this on Jeannie Hall Suspense and commented:
    How to “Go PRO” as a writer

  1. […] Source: Want to Be a Successful Writer? Ten Ways to GO PRO! […]

  2. […] Source: Want to Be a Successful Writer? Ten Ways to GO PRO! […]

  3. […] Source: Want to Be a Successful Writer? Ten Ways to GO PRO! […]

  4. […] « Want to Be a Successful Writer? Ten Ways to GO PRO! […]

  5. […] Source: Want to Be a Successful Writer? Ten Ways to GO PRO! […]

  6. […] what we do.  Most of all, it allows us to hold the bearing of a professional, and utilize all that go pro advice wandering around the internet.  We have the confidence to stick to a training regimen, keep up the […]

  7. […] exciting to tell you guys about *bounces up and down like a kid*. Last week we talked about Going Pro and today I’d like to springboard off some of what we talked about. One of the reasons it is […]

  8. […] Being a writer is as much a lifestyle as an occupation. Tracy Shawn analyses the care and feeding of an author, Stephanie Burgis explains her inspiration and influences, and Jo Eberhardt dissects the writer’s mind and it’s insatiable appetite for understanding. Jessie Kwak gives tips to start your passion project right now, Sarah Knight explores the power of pleasure reading, Brian A. Klems lists 7 reasons writing a book makes you a badass, and Kristen Lamb shares 10 ways to go pro. […]

  9. […] Want to Be a Successful Writer? Ten Ways to GO PRO! […]

  10. […] I gave Ten Ways to Go Pro and I happened to mention the writing sprints we do on W.A.N.A.Tribe (a Ning I created for […]

  11. […] I gave Ten Ways to Go Pro and I happened to mention the writing sprints we do on W.A.N.A.Tribe (a Ning I created for […]

  12. […] what we do.  Most of all, it allows us to hold the bearing of a professional, and utilize all that go pro advice wandering around the internet.  We have the confidence to stick to a training regimen, keep up the […]

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