Is Being a "Good" Girl Hurting Your Career? Why "Bad" Girls Become Best-Sellers

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Today is a repost because of a death in the family last week. But you know what? Life moves on.  I chose this post because we all need a good kick in the ass now and again, even ME.

It was a FUN post and a good way to get my moxie back….because seriously my moxie got kicked in the face last week. I am sure NONE of you have been there. Feeling like a failure, like nothing you do matters?

Well, get over it. We are going to have a hell raising Monday!

Last fall I read Kate White’s I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know. There are bad books, okay books, good books and great books. But there is another kind of book and it’s the rarest.

The game-changer.

White has a witty, sassy style. She is seamlessly intelligent and down-to-earth in her fiction. And guess what? Her nonfiction delivers more of the same.

Back to our topic of being too damn nice for our own good.

Good Girls Don’t Become Best-Sellers

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Before you throw digital knives at me, please hear me out. I’ve been doing this social media thing since MySpace was big. I have three books under my belt, well over 1000 blogs, and thousands of hours of teaching. So I’ve been around long enough to at least make a very unscientific study of human behavior and I can tell you that men almost always have the advantage in the new publishing paradigm. They have the edge for the same reasons they gain the advantage in the workplace.

Those lessons our mothers and grandmothers passed on could be the very behaviors that have us standing in our own way. I feel this is particularly true for the writing profession since it is largely comprised of women over 30.

Women over 30 have lived long enough to see this world change more than it ever has in the entire course of human history. Who would have imagined we’d say things like, “I want a picture. Hold on while I get my phone!”

Many of the writers I work with believe they are struggling with branding because of the technology, but I don’t agree. I think women are finally in a position where we must choose. It is live or die. If we listen to our rearing we will lose and lose BIG.

We don’t like the new paradigm because we can’t hide behind an agent and wait meekly for outside approval. The new publishing paradigm lands us smack dab in the place we are most terrified.

What I am going to address can help the men (the “Nice Guys”) but since last I checked I am NOT a guy? Give your thoughts/perspectives in the comments *smooch*

But us older gals? I could kick myself for not seeing this earlier and it figures it would take a former Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine to help me see the light. I’m going riff with some of the ideas presented in Ms. White’s book and apply them to women in the world of publishing. We are taught to be Good Girls and is this having a devastating impact on our careers.

Then, since I hate whining and love solutions, we will throw out the rule books and explore what it is to be a “Bad Girl.”

#1 Good Girls Are Modest

It is unbecoming to brag, so we are modest and humble and we are shooting ourselves in the foot.

In the corporate world, men are more likely to own their accomplishments, whereas women tend to minimize their achievements. To paraphrase White:

If a man has four years of college French, he has no problem stating he is fluent. Women, on the other hand, will downplay their abilities. We say we have a “conversational grasp” of the language.

When it comes to writing, the second a man even starts a novel, he has business cards with “Author” as his title and he is securing a website. Women, on the other hand? Let’s pause that thought for a little test.

How many of you are aspiring writers? Raise your hand. No one will see.

Now, use that hand to smack yourself soundly and never call yourself that again.

Writers write. There is no try. There is no aspire. Aspiring is for wimps. It takes guts and blood to be a writer.

No one will take us seriously unless we do it first.

#2 Good Girls Need Permission

I cannot count how many writers (usually female) have written a novel, numerous novels and yet still refer to themselves as “aspiring writers.” They are waiting for permission to even use the title even though they have a blog and have written hundreds of thousands of words.

Men don’t do this. At least not in the same numbers. I can attest to that. I’ve met men whose writing was so bad they should have been banned from downloading Word until they took some grammar classes, but that didn’t stop them from having a marketing plan or hiring a PR person.

They don’t hesitate to secure a domain, build a blog, or hire the best person to design their cover and if they can’t get an agent? They are more likely to self-publish without needing outside approval to do so.

#3 Good Girls Don’t Have Desires

So many of us gals are afraid to want something. Why is it so hard for us to admit we want something? To claim a certain life? Why do we feel such shame and a need to hide who we are and what we desire?

It is okay for a man to want sex a promotion a raise to want to be a New York Times best-selling author, but for us? There is almost something dirty about wanting to write. Wanting to write and get PAID to write. Wanting to write and to…be famous for it.

Oh no! Kristen has gone TOO FAR! And there is only one punishment for lighting the grail-shaped beacon…

Dirty, naughty Zewt!

Spank us all!

If we are wives and mothers? The problem only compounds from there. I have a hard time expressing I want to go to the bathroom alone, how am I supposed to say I want to be published a LEGEND?

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#4 Good Girls Are Demure


As a social media expert for writers, do you know one of the biggest mistakes writers make in branding? They fail to use their names. They tweet as @fairywriter or @ILuvBooks or @dragongirl. They do all of this wonderful networking for months and years and yet it is almost all wasted effort. Why? Because unless I am going to change my name to Fairy Writer and slap that on a cover, that twitter handle is doing zilch nada nothing to build a brand.

Remember what a brand is?

A brand is when our name alone is a bankable asset. It is when a name alone has the power to drive sales.

When I get on social media and see writers using monikers, by and large it is women. Men do this too, but not in the same numbers. And, even if men use a moniker, the second I point out the fallacy, they are far more likely to change it. Women on the other hand are terrified of using their name and take way more convincing.

Men are also far more likely to start a blog. Women?

They have to have three angelic visions, four miraculous encounters and a committee of family members to tell them it would be okay to BLOG. Why is blogging so scary? IT IS FREAKING WRITING. It plays to a writer’s strengths, but I might as well ask writers to perform brain surgery from space with a Chia Pet and an egg beater.

What if people find out I like to write? 

Don’t you think they should if you hope they will pay money to read your books?

#5 Good Girls Feel Comfortable Losing

Well, I tried and that’s all that counts. 

We women are notorious for placing ourselves in no-win situations. Out of one side of our mouth we say we can’t be on social media because we don’t yet have a book for sale, but when we do have a book for sale? Oh, well I feel so awkward talking to people because they might think I am selling my book.

*bangs head on keyboard*

When a man publishes a book, he is there to win. He isn’t there to see his name in print. He is there to see his name in lights.

But us gals? We are notorious for settling. We feel awkward admitting we maybe kind of sort of would like to be number one. Men have no problem admitting they are on social media because they would like to sell books.

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Okay, enough of the “Good Girl” stuff.

I hope I’ve made my point. Now *rubs hands* it is time for me to help you cultivate that inner Bad Girl.

If you want this dream, the first step is to know it is okay to want it. Many of you are moms, wives, and caretakers. Maybe you already have a great career and it is “selfish” to want to write. And I am here to say, YES. It is. And sometimes a little selfishness goes a long way. Men outpace us because they are better at being selfish.

We must learn to stuff a sock in the inner Good Girl’s mouth and channel that inner Bad Girl because she is dying to get out more. Being a Bad Girl doesn’t mean we aren’t still kind and gracious, but it does mean things are going to change.

#1 Bad Girls Do It Afraid

Nothing remarkable happens in the comfort zone. You are going to have to suck it up and writer up. Only sociopaths don’t feel fear. Fear is natural and normal but it gets in the way of greatness. I feel women are far more afraid of failure than men. We wait to be “perfect.” We can’t say anything until we have the perfect book. But perfect is the enemy of the good. Do it afraid.

Yes. You might fail. Odds are you WILL fail and good! Keep failing. It’s how we learn.

My motto?

If we aren’t failing, we aren’t doing anything interesting.

So understand everything I am about to tell you is likely going to scare your pants off.

It’s okay, the erotica authors can lead the way 😀 .

Pay attention to that feeling because you will need to remember it. If something scares me (like writing this particular blog), likely I am onto something BIG. It is a sign I am heading in the right direction.

#2 Bad Girls OWN IT

Good, bad, ugly. We own what we do. I admit when I left sales and dreamed of becoming a writer, I wrote the world’s worst novel. It was being used in Guantanamo Bay to break terrorists until it was banned under the Hague Convention as torture.

But you know what? I finished a novel. I did something everyone says they want to do but then never actually do. I own the bad, but what’s been harder? Learning to own the GOOD.

It took weeks for me to put the emblem on this blog that I was named one of Writer’s Digest’s 100 Best Blogs. WHY? Because I am a work in progress, too 😀 .

#3 Bad Girls ASK FOR IT

How many writers are waiting for someone to deliver their big break into their lap? We go to conferences and practically throw up in our shoes at the thought of asking an agent if they’d like to hear about our book. WHY? It is their JOB. Agents don’t have a job without writers.

Ask for what you want. Guess what? All they can do is say no. But, they might just say, “Yes.”

When I wrote my second social media book, I had the terrifying task of finding blurbs. So, I took my own advice and did it afraid. I made a list of all my favorite authors and then…asked. Guess what? New York Times Best-Selling Author James Rollins said, “Yes.”

He already knew me and loved my book.


But I never would have known had I not dared to ASK. Bad girls don’t hear, “No.” We hear, “Not yet” 😉 .

#4 Bad Girls DO IT

A lot.

We write. We blog. We tweet and by golly we slap our name on it while we are there. I get that the house is a mess, but guess what? It can wait. Most men aren’t waiting until the house is immaculate and all the laundry is done and the kids are all asleep to take time to write!

How many of us are getting up before dawn or staying up after midnight because our dream might just inconvenience someone else? Let them be inconvenienced for a change!

We ladies bend more than the karma sutra and that is okay, but if our husband actually has to watch the kids for an hour in the evening that is too much?


# Bad Girls Are In It to WIN IT

Again, I love, love, love Kate White’s book because it reminded me of so much I’d forgotten. Yes, I am a full-time author, blogger, and C.E.O. but I am also a mom and spend way too much time in yoga pants and covered in crumbs. It is easy to forget to be hungry. It is easy to lose our way unless we are vigilant to keep the path. It is easy to let other people’s opinions matter too much.

Lionesses do not lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.

Bad girls don’t whine. We don’t make excuses and we do not politely wait our turn. We understand life is short and we need to make our time here count.

Understand that this is an amazing world that is rich in bounty and there is enough to go around. Don’t let anyone diminish you. This is your dream. It isn’t your little hobby or your “thing” it is YOU. It is your dream and it is OKAY to WANT TO WIN.

This seems like such a simple thing, but I hope you see how pivotal this realization is. I can give you all the branding and blogging lessons in the world and it won’t help. We don’t have a technology problem, we have a confidence problem.

Vow today to make a change. Start by admitting you want the dream then, for the love of all that is chocolate, slap your NAME on it. No more hiding. I will find you on Twitter and pull your @FairyGurl wings off 😉 .


What are your thoughts? Do you see any “Good Girl” behaviors that have been undermining you? Do you have a hard time calling yourself a…writer? Do you have a hard time with the notion of social media because the thought of admitting you have a dream scares you spit-less? Have you bothered to get a domain name, a website? Blog? Are you afraid to ask for what you want? Do you put everyone and everything ahead of your writing? Are you waiting for permission? Do you feel like you are a poseur or a fake? Do you struggle with perfectionism?

I LOVE hearing from you!

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

And yeah yeah I am stressed. Got most of it out of my system last week so these classes will be intense because I east pressure for breakfast. So help me focus on something positive and take a class. Today is my official last day of pity party so ur good.

Check out NEW classes below! 

Upcoming Classes

All W.A.N.A. classes are on-line and all you need is an internet connection. Recordings are included in the class price.

 Character & Plotting (NEW CLASS!) July 8th

July 8th, 2015 7:00-9:00 P.M. EST. Cost is $35

All great plots are birthed from character. The core plot problem should be the crucible that eventually reveals a hero in Act III. This means that characterization and plot are inextricably linked. Weak plot, weak character. Blasé character, blasé plot.

This class will teach you how to create dimensional characters and then how to plot from inner demons and flaws. Get inside the heads and hearts of your characters in a way that drives and tightens dramatic tension.

This is an excellent class for anyone who wants to learn how to plot faster and to add layers to their characters.

We are doing ANOTHER round of Battle of the First Pages!!! July 15th

The first time we did this we had some tech issues doing this new format and we’ve since worked those out, but for now I am still keeping the price low ($25) until we get this streamlined to my tastes.

LIMITED SEATS. This is an open workshop where each person will submit his or her first page of the manuscript for critique. I will read the page aloud and “gong” where I would have stopped reading and explain why. This is an interactive workshop designed to see what works or what doesn’t. Are you ready to test your page in the fire?

Hooking the Reader—Your First Five Pages July 22nd

The first five pages are the most essential part of the novel, your single most powerful selling tool. It’s how you will hook agents, editors and readers. This class will cover the most common blunders and also teach you how to hook hard and hook early. This class is 90 minutes long, 60 minutes of instruction and 30 minutes for Q&A.

Your First Five Pages Gold Level

This includes the webinar and a detailed critique your first five pages.

Your First Five Pages Platinum Level

This includes the webinar and a detailed critique of your first twenty pages.

Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist July 29th

All fiction must have a core antagonist. The antagonist is the reason for the story problem, but the term “antagonist” can be highly confusing. Without a proper grasp of how to use antagonists, the plot can become a wandering nightmare for the author and the reader.

This class will help you understand how to create solid story problems (even those writing literary fiction) and then give you the skills to layer conflict internally and externally.

Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist Gold

This is a personal workshop to make sure you have a clear story problem. And, if you don’t? I’ll help you create one and tell the story you want to tell. This is done by phone/virtual classroom and by appointment. Expect to block off at least a couple hours.

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 Mona Karel Author and commented:
    Looks like it’s time to GET BAD

  2. Nothing like a slap upside the head to get me out of my rut. And I reblogged to make it hurt/help even more!

  3. LOL!!!! YES! —-> ‘When it comes to writing, the second a man even starts a novel, he has business cards with “Author” as his title and he is securing a website. Women, on the other hand? Let’s pause that thought for a little test.’

    Great read! Thank you for the kick in the ass!!! I was in desperate need of it!!! 😉

  4. I’m an unrepentant good girl. Just ask my husband how frustrated he felt until we got engaged. 😉 But I’m an author and a damn good one. My sales suck, but my writing’s brilliant. A lot of women have trouble owning up to the fact that they are writers; whereas, my problem is admitting I’m a literary writer. I like hiding behind terms like “upmarket” because literary sounds so freakin’ pretentious, and I’m too much of a good girl to be pretentious. Besides, I love reading genre fiction and literary, which is the opposite of what pretentious snobs do. Another reason why I’ve hidden behind the “upmarket” label is because there is a part of me that fears I’m not good enough to call my writing literary, which is freakin’ stupid because literary is defined by structure, and genre authors often write such beautiful prose they make angels weep.

    So, this is me coming out of the closet. I, Lanette Kauten, am a literary writer. (Can I still call myself a good girl?)

    1. Good for you! Congratulations and welcome to the club.

      1. Thanks, Jan. It’s good to be here.

    2. Good? I’d say you’re awesome!! Way to go!!

      1. Thank you! 🙂

  5. This is a GREAT blog for a Monday. I am inspired! Inspired to go on and be BAD!! Thanks for sharing and so sorry for your loss last week.

  6. You hit home with me when you told us to stop calling ourselves “aspiring writers.” You are either a writer or you aren’t.

  7. It took me 3/4 of a lifetime to let my inner ‘bad girl’ out and get my first two books written (three if you count the one in editing). I self-published the first of a series, and I’ll do the same for the rest because I CAN. My books are GOOD. They’re fun to read because they are fun to write, and I can write. I tell everyone I meet I’m an author, and it’s fun to see their reactions and to give them my cards or bookmarks. I’m not perfect, by any means, but I’m learning and growing and stretching and I’m having a blast doing it. I love your blog, and much of what I’m learning comes from you and your guest bloggers. Thank you, Kristen, for all your sound and fun advice.

  8. This. THIS! Wow. I’m feeling super-bad now.

    1. I know what you mean, I’m geared up for inner bad girl.

  9. This? All of this? Exactly what I needed today. Thank you. Sometimes I forget that what works for me in the office (where my favorite books are “Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office” and “Managing Up”) will work for me in this arena, too. Even though for some aspects of the self-publishing biz, such as image acquisition, my motto has been “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no,” and has gotten me into contact with some phenomenal folks such as successful and professional athletes as well as world-renowned groundbreaking photographers, I don’t use the same approach when selling my work.

    I think because I never, ever intended to be a writer, it’s hard for me to think of myself that way. Authors are a secret society of people who create worlds that allow me to suspend disbelief and forget the mundane elements of the world and my life which are less than what I would have wanted for myself. How in the world can I be an author? Then I read the testimonials and reviews of readers and (gasp!) fans of my work, and I realize that for these people, that is exactly what I am doing.

    I never considered traditional publishing, probably for those reasons. My first novel was something I wanted to hold in my hands, so I published and purchased a copy. I never expected anyone to buy it, except perhaps friends and family. The few to whom I had guiltily told my secret, at least. I still struggle with promoting my work, allowing the dozens of faithful fans (I have fans – still a concept I’m coming to grips with) to promote it in my stead.

    I’m going about this all wrong! I love the simple call to action of “Own it” that you’ve used in the article. Now to figure out what that looks like for me!

    Thanks again,
    ~MariaLisa deMora

  10. Reblogged this on PTL Perrin Writes… and commented:
    Before you get your knickers in a twist, this has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with confidence! Kristen Lamb is one of the best teachers I’ve run across, and her style is fun and to the point. Enjoy!

  11. Reblogged on

    • Marilag Lubag on July 11, 2016 at 9:49 am
    • Reply

    Well, I wouldn’t say that the characteristics of a “bad” girl are really for bad girls. These are the characteristics of bold girls. ? We women shouldn’t be apologetic for wanting something. We have to own and flaunt it.

    Men doing those things just have inflated ego. It had nothing to do with them being men. ?

    1. I agree – I don’t think it helps to label positive traits as ‘bad’. That sends the subliminal message that you’re doing something wrong if you pursue your dream vigorously. ‘Bold’ is a much better term. (“Bring me that horizon!”)
      That said, the advice is spot on. Mice do not reach the bestseller lists.
      Hoping for better times to come your way soon, Kristen!

  12. “I’ve met men whose writing was so bad they should have been banned from downloading Word until they took some grammar classes, but that didn’t stop them from having a marketing plan or hiring a PR person.” hilarious!! What a great article. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  13. I struggle mostly with the bad girls my characters want to be which is probably because I struggle with the bad girl I WANT TO BE. Excellent post! Rawr!

  14. Yep, I did it Kirsten. I was banned in Branson for daring to teach a class on “You’re Never Too Old for Sex.” Is that bad girl enough? Talk about having fun with something. I still laugh when I think of it. Did it make me a best seller? Well, no, but it increased my sales and recognition. I say have fun and do what you enjoy doing long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Thanks for this post.

    • chellypike on July 11, 2016 at 11:04 am
    • Reply

    Love this. I taught my hubby how to clean house and wash dishes and do laundry and bathe kids. And I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it. But, I still can’t use the bathroom alone.

  15. Wow. Great post. And even as a re-post, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Trying to finish a book, get two websites up, and personal drama are turning this July into a crunch. I was at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this spring and went to a panel discussion on thriller novels. The panel head was Lee Goldberg. The four person panel member were all men. At the end, I asked the guys if they thought women were discriminated against in the thriller genre and if people didn’t read women thriller writers as much.

    The first immediate response from one member was an adamant, duck-and-cover, “I’m not going to touch that one.

    The second response was, “…ask the woman in the audience of the all male panel.”

    Another pointed out that he had a friend who was a female thriller author whose books weren’t selling. She changed to a male pen name and her books took off.

    I see no problem with using a pen name to break into the market. I’m into selling books. I think as more female authors are revealed as being best selling writers of thrillers or action-adventure genres, the sigma will lessen, but it won’t go away. There are always bubbas out there who won’t read a female writer because they don’t believe you has the real-world knowledge. (Like the idiot who wrote a nasty note to the woman who parked in the “Veterans” parking space, because he only thought of veterans as men. She’d done more than her fair share of time in the military.)

    In any case, your post was awesome and kick-in-the-pants reminders to stand up for ourselves are always welcome.

  16. So much truth here. I feel guilty for going after what I want because…I don’t know why. And I’m sure I’ll never be good enough. No one wants to read what I’m writing. Maybe I should just head back to bed and sleep until everything gets better.
    Except it doesn’t. Because life happens no matter what but success only comes if we work at it. I just celebrated three years since I “owned” the title of author and I still have so little to show for it. So little.
    But I feel guilty when I try to step into the bad girl’s shoes. So maybe I’m really NOT cut out for this author thing.
    Sorry for the pity party. Maybe I should have stayed in bed today.

    1. Sharon, it could be you’re having one of those days when the best reason for getting out of bed is to crawl under it. We all have those. But seriously? Three years? Three years is nothing. Plenty of people have worked harder and longer and still not achieved what they thought they would. Get over the friggin’ guilt and let go of this Cinderella view of instant gratification. I know I sound like a Bitch, but I don’t think coddling will do you a lot of good right now. Men and women go to war for years, risk their lives, get wounded or die. Police go to work to protect protesters and are assassinated. People everywhere go to dead-end jobs every day to take care of their families and just pay the bills. Put things in perspective and don’t be the princess who quits because there’s no $ or glory after three years. You know, you don’t have to be a “bad girl.” But you do need to have some strength for pretty much anything in this life. (sigh… that’s me being the “bad girl.”)

      1. Yep. I totally needed a kick in the pants today.

  17. Great food for thought-thanks! Using my name is pretty scary.

  18. As someone commented already, “It’s time to get bad.”

    I’m sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you.

    • danfrostwrites on July 11, 2016 at 11:34 am
    • Reply

    OMG ! OMG! My dream has vanished ! Had no idea you were over 30 !

    1. Baby, I am over 40 😉

  19. eh, Im just a reader, ?

  20. Read this

    Sent from my iPhone


  21. So sorry for your loss.

    I remember this post from before. It’s almost required reading each year, like getting a flu shot. I think it’s true for many—I know it’s true for me—that fighting for myself is often an equally big inner battle. On the other hand, fighting for someone else often brings out my inner pissed-off lioness. I’m making progress, but could do better. Thanks to you I’m consistent across social media and the blog is now over 3 years-old.

  22. That was great!!! Just what I needed! Thank you!

  23. Reblogged this on Christina Anne Hawthorne.

  24. Hi Kristen,

    I’ve been following your advice for at least 3 years now. I believe I’m doing 99% of what it takes to be bada** author. I spent nearly 5 years building a brand and an audience.

    I put out my first romantic comedy at the end of May. It’s sold 30 copies (in 40 days), plus something like 3K pages read on KU. My Indie friends think these are wonderful numbers, which is really scary. Another thing that’s scary is that I sold 7 books one day and ended up #155 on Amazon in Comedy Romance, which means out of 60K+ books, only 154 authors, including the big names, sold more than I did.

    Now, these are my problems> First, I was counting on my published friends to help publicize my book (ie. networking). Some did, but I wasn’t aware that so many of them were preparing their next book for publication during the same week. I was counting on writers, not readers. Second, I paid for a review tour (hired based on the rec of friends) and the promoter failed to send out the ARCs on time, then failed to send out the packet on time. There was zero attention on Release Day. Third, I wasn’t aware Memorial Day was a major US holiday and nobody was around social media. Fourth, I’ve asked other published authors how to make sales and they all say, “You won’t make money until your third book.” I think they’re all stuck in that good girl track, even though some of them are wonderfully successful. And the idea that ‘it’s impossible to sell your first book’ plays into the biggest problem: my 4 kids are wonderfully supportive of my writing but the adults around me are not.

    Remember all those posts about psychic vampires? Yeah. “Get a real job.” “Is this effort worth the measly money you’re making?” “Your writing does not contribute to the household.” “It’s just a hobby unless you’re paying the bills.” “You call that good?” “I don’t read ebooks. When are you going to put out a real book?” And on and on. Keep in mind that 1% of these detractors have actually read the book. Some days I really don’t want to come out of my cave.

    Writing is the only job I’ve ever done that is so much joy it’s not like work at all. And I’m bloody good at it. My family should be glad I write or I’d probably be a serial killer by now. Plus, they conveniently forget I’m looking after 4 teens, editing professionally, and running a household that includes 2 dogs and 2 guinea pigs.

    I am selling myself as best I know how and standing up not just to inner circle put-downs, but I’m also arguing against the complacency of peers.

    Everybody has to pay their dues and I’m willing to be patient to get my name on the marquee. But I’ll tell ya, I don’t feel incapable of doing it. Most days, I DO feel like I don’t have the inside track on how and when to market this book. And there’s always somebody around who’d like to undermine my confidence. I stand up to all of it but boy, some days…

    1. “My family should be glad I write or I’d probably be a serial killer by now.”

      Best reason to be a writer. Ever.

    2. Interesting on the amazon stats. I want to write a romantic comedy as a side project (well, side project that will become “actual project!”. My debut is coming out in YA and I don’t really know what kind of sales to expect.

      1. @Stephanie Scott it’s really hard to get hold of sales stats. If you have friends who write in your genre, I’d suggest asking them about their numbers. Best of luck.

  25. Sorry for your loss! I appreciate your words of wisdom;-)

  26. Sorry, but blah. I don’t care to be a “bad” girl. I am writing and doing it as humbly as possible but still doing the writing and learning and marketing. Don’t want to be a man. Am tired of being told I need to do everything the way men do. Sorry. Proud (oops, not so humble) to be me, a woman. And I will work that way. My books are actually selling.

  27. The word “aspiring” makes me want to stick my finger down my throat. Do it, or don’t do it, but get a backbone. Do you really want to get to the end of your life (which may be sooner than you think) and whine, “Well, I really wanted to but I didn’t have the nerve…”?

    1. Wendy! You’re sooo right!.

  28. And to think I had the power all along. Thanks for reposting this. Great
    The second time around too!

  29. Condolences for your loss, Kristen, and thanks or posting this again. So worth repeating. In fact, worth hammering into the brain (figuratively).

  30. Sorry for your loss, Kristen. I hate when life serves up a kick in the gut. Been there.

    As for being a good girl or a bad girl… self-examination time. I never refer to myself as an Author. To me, authors are actually published. But I’ve also been avoiding “Writer.” I’ll say “I’m writing” or “I need go get back to writing” but when people ask what I do, I don’t say “I’m a writer.” I still think of myself in the “freelance editor” bucket, since basically I’ve edited way more than I’ve written.

    But it isn’t really the truth anymore. All my work-time at the computer has been spent writing, for quite a while now. So when do I take this editing-hat off, and call myself a writer, for realsies? No idea.

    Maybe when I can decide what my writer name ought to be. LOL “Cathy French” is what people know me as. But that’s pretty damned boring, and likely already “taken.” I guess I could go by “Catherine” but… pretentious. My middle name is weird. “Noreen French.” God, I just don’t know. Maybe give myself a completely new name, all feminine and pretty to suit my genre… “Felicia French”. Now I sound like I’m 80 or so. (Which is, I am sure, a delightful age to be… but not one that I actually fit.)

    See? I’m actually making excuses. I wouldn’t call that a “good girl” behavior, so much as a “chicken-shit” behavior.

    1. Let’s say that someone wants to be a shoemaker. He starts making shoes in his house because he doesn’t have the capital that it would take to open a shoe store. He sells some shoes, goes to the bank for a business loan, and opens his first shoe store. It takes him three years of being in business before he starts to turn a profit. Here’s the question. When did he become a shoemaker? When he first started making shoes inside his home? When he first opened a store? When he made a profit?

      BTW, I vote for Noreen French. It’s different, yet it conjures up images of an old-fashioned madame. In other words, a bad girl.

      1. An old-fashioned madame? Wow! I wanna be Mae West! It’d fit with the whole Western thing I have going on in my romances. Heh. Definitely taking that vote under advisement.

        Re: the shoemaker… he’s a man, though. 😉 Doesn’t he get to call himself a shoemaker whenever he wants? LOL

        • Joan Wylder on July 12, 2016 at 9:36 pm
        • Reply

        Lanette–this is a terrific example & I hope we all start introducing ourselves as authors.

    2. Cathy, while your mulling over name you should think of the business aspects. I didn’t and now I’m having a heck of a time with my domain name. (As a matter of fact, all of you who haven’t done this yet should consider this.) A domain name is part of your branding. One smart daddy I know bought his daughter’s domain name. She’s five years old. For him, it’s an investment for her.

      Cathy, I saw your vacillation, so I went over to GoDaddy and checked domains. Your domain is available for over $600… (see what I mean about investment?) Your domain is taken. Your domain is available for less than a cup of coffee. I suggest, if it’s on your list, you invest in it today. What’s $2.99 for a year when you could end up selecting it next year and it’s gone completely? (P.S. I don’t have any business relationship with GoDaddy other than I’ve always built sites for friends and organizations there because I’m not a website wiz and their customer service is the only customer service in the world, in my entire life, that I’ve never had a complaint about. And they don’t cost an arm and a leg. And I don’t get tied up someone else controlling my domain names. (I’m actually going to put one of my own up in August. YEAH!)

      1. I should also point out that I’m designing my site, using a lot of knowledge I gained from Kristen’s book, “Rise of the Machines, Human Authors in a Digital World.” Thanks, Kristen.

      2. Wow. I hadn’t even considered that, Penny.

        I think you just saved me a bundle of money. I’ll get on it right away. Thank you for the heads up.

        1. If you use a WordPress theme for your site ( make sure that you make a “child theme” for your site before you start designing. WordPress continually updates. If you design your site on the theme, say “LeatherDiary,” which is one I’m working on now, and you make changes in color and other things, the changes will go away or get screwed up when WordPress updates. If you make a “child theme” from the theme you select, then your changes will remain when WordPress updates. “Child themes” can seem weird, but you’ll have the “ah hah” moment and get it.

          The other thing to make absolutely positively sure you do is to select a RESPONSIVE theme. You can actually do a search for all the responsive themes when you look for one you like. Google has now made responsive themes a priority in their algorithms. It means the site will change proportionally for computers, laptops, phones, ipads, notebooks, etc.

          I look forward to seeing your stuff out there CathyFrenchCatherineFrenchNoreenFrench, author.

          1. Still not sure what I’m doing, but I have snatched up the and .net domain names on GoDaddy for a couple of years.

            What are “Child Themes”? (See, this is where I am, at the moment… completely clueless. LOL) No idea how to build the site, but I’ve got the NoreenFrench name on WordPress now too. Guess building the sites can take a bit of time, since I haven’t actually finished the book(s) yet.

            My learning curve is about to get very steep, I think.

          2. Congrats on Noreen domain – baby steps. After all, I’m the only person who was born knowing everything…??? :-O

            Look, if you get into a pickle on stuff as you go along. I’ve signed up with I should have done it long ago. Although membership is pending, I imagine it will pop up soon. You can contact me over there with questions and whenever I can, I’ll help.

            Happy writing and have the very best of days. — Penny

          3. Great! I’m at WanaTribe too. This is me:


            Though, I suppose I should look at making myself consistent at some point… 😉

  31. I’m sorry you lost a loved one last week; thinking of you and your family in this time of sorrow.

    Loved the blog post today for many reasons. I have a question for you–when is it appropriate to call oneself an ‘author’? I totally get what you mean when you talk about using the term ‘writer’ but when to use author? I recently started my first blog, I’m working on a novel. If I call myself ‘author’ would an agent or publisher feel deceived?

    The other big personal struggle I have is using my name in branding (due to the fact I plan to write about issues related to abuse & domestic violence)–it feels like a slippery slope.

    1. I began writing my first novel in Feb, 2012 (solicited by a publisher that’s since changed hands). At that time, they urged me to establish my brand. I didn’t build my brand according to my then-present, I built it according to my now-future. So, using Kristen’s advice, I immediately began to brand myself as Author even though I had nothing published. Publishers, agents and promoters never expressed any concern. I’ve blogged hundreds of books since 2012 and it’s been fine. My domain is Jess Molly Brown, Author and that’s also my website and my FB page.

      Jess Molly Brown is a pen name and I use it for all my writing, so I don’t see it as a problem that I’ve branded myself under that. I write some pretty graphic lovemaking and not only do I have kids, I used to work in schools. The last thing I want is people to come ringing the doorbell. Just be very careful about the pen name you choose because you’re going to want to keep it for a long time. I googled mine to make sure it didn’t overlap with anyone else.

  32. I hope the builder’s energy you are pouring into the universe turns your loss and pain into something beautiful and lasting — for you and for all the women writers you’re trying to wake up.

    As for me, by “Writers write. There is no try.” I had edited my WP profile from “Yeah, I’m another aspiring author…” to “I am a writer…” Yes, I DO own domain names: one for me (stranschtdotcom) and one for The Book: (secondearthtrilogydotcom). Yes, I write a blog (Space, Time, and Raspberries), and my username is Sue Ranscht. And just this very minute, I changed my Twitter and Instagram usernames from SueStarlight to STRanscht.

    As for ENHANCED, the first book in the Second Earth Trilogy (YA Scifi), I am finishing the final edit — perhaps no longer to “perfection” — to resubmit (within a month) to a requesting agent.

    Thank you, Kristen!

    1. And now, by recommending this post in my Saturday 7, you should get a pingback from me as well!

  33. Nineteenth century literature may be littered with them, but I have yet to meet a demure girl in real life. As for the other, give me a good yarn and interesting characters and I don’t care what sex the author is.

  34. It sounds cliche, but I am truly sorry for your loss.

    This post has my name written all over it. I frequently say that I am far too Southern for my own good. My old school Southern grandmother made sure that I was raised to feel wrong about taking pride in anything, because, you know, pride is wrong. I’m supposed to be sweet, and humble, and modest, and wear pearls, and on, and on, ad nauseam.

    Well, you know what? I am sweet, and kind (usually). I am also a good writer. And, it’s okay to believe in myself and admit that am am good. And, I am not an aspiring writer. I. Am. A. Writer. Now, please excuse me while I go out and own my dream.

  35. I am sorry for your loss, but appreciate the repost.

    And, yeah, I suffer from “Good Girl” syndrome. A chronic case of it, actually.

  36. I enjoyed this blog thoroughly. And, yes, I’m guilty of some of the mental naysaying/off-putting comments. I am a unique Regency romance writer including Pride and Prejudice variations, and I have loyal readers. Actually, I’m proud of my writing style and my voice. Finding readers who enjoy it as well is a challenge, but I’m up to it. Thanks for the insights that are being taken to heart in spite of the nitpickers. They just make me more determined.

  37. I didn’t linkto my blog,but I did put it on my facebook page. Does that count? Even though I do have a blog, and a domain name, and use my name blatently everywhere, especially now that I am indie pub’ing my series, it is still hard and scary – but exhilarating at the same time. Don’tforget to mention exhilarating! loved the blog. Very affirming.

  38. Wow, I cant say how much this post meant to me. It comes at a particularly low point in my life where I’m doubting my ability as a writer and dealing with a lot of personal issues. And yes, I am a chronic ‘good girl’ brought up to believe its not nice or I’m bragging to share / own any successes. It was a revelation reading all the comments – so thank you Kristen for posting and also for everyone sharing their experiences. I’m going to own my writing abilities – I am an enthralling story teller & I love writing about realistic characters who are faced with difficult decisions. And I just love the writing world and the friends I’ve made. All the best to everyone.

  39. You know what kept going through my mind as I read this? Good girls stay in our arena no matter how crowded. How many of us are romance authors, or in other genres, how many of us market to women–covers, romantic sub-plots, hunky alien swarms, whatever–we clearly market ourselves to women, and end up competing with women authors. It’s time to be a gladiator, pick up that sword and swing it with the big boys. PS: not sure how to reblog. LOL!

  40. Reblogged this on Author Misty Harvey and commented:
    This is definitely the swift kick in my ass I need. These are definitely me. Time to get bad!

    “Have you bothered to get a domain name, a website? Blog? Are you afraid to ask for what you want? Do you put everyone and everything ahead of your writing?”

  41. Reblogged this on kimberleycooperblog and commented:
    So you want to write? No excuses. Just do it.

  42. Reblogged on and said “Want to write? No excuses. Just do it.” Sorry to hear of your loss. It’s a shame that we need death to remind us to live.

  43. Thank you for this! I am so guilty of many of these good girl behaviors. My bad ass girl has just kicked good girl to the curb 🙂

    1. GOOD girl. LOL. My previous comment had a typo. Reblogged on Author Random Musings 🙂

  44. Reblogged this on Susan Boles, Author Random Musings and commented:
    GREAT writing. Every female should read!

  45. I can’t say this out loud, for obvious reasons: Hot Chick!!!!

  46. Reblogged this on Chronicles of a Nerd and commented:
    Awesome post from an awesome author!

  47. Three years ago, I started calling myself an author, instead of a writer, and instead of subtly/inadvertently getting mocked for my passion, people were genuinely curious and praised me for my efforts. Let the good people know: “author” is a magic word! You respect yourself more when you call yourself an author and people respond to that energy.

  48. A fellow writer shared this post on Facebook, and now I am hooked on your blog! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I’ve also suggested my library purchase Rise of the Machines because HOW does our interlibrary loan service not even have it?!

  49. What an AWESOME post, thank you! I reblogged it on my blog,, and I have to say, I think of myself as a lioness already. Seeing myself as your warrior-colleague, I seem to think along the lines of the Bad Girls anyway, but so few of my friends do, and I so want my fellow writers to read this and kick their butts to finally BELIEVE in themselves! It hurts to see so many great female artists put everything else first, BUT their art, their passion, their fulfilment. Ah, I love this post. SO SO much! *smooch*

    1. (((((HUGS)))) We all need a good battle cry now and again. I am so happy to know you <3

      1. Aww, that just made my day 🙂 And yes, even warriors or lionesses need a good back-rub and virtual hug somedays, or more drastically, a bang in the back with our shields…I feel that every lady-writer (or artist) should read this. Seriously. I feel my intestines boiling.

  50. This is great. I thought I was a strong independent writer, but I can see some good girl seeping in. Naughty girl, ready to be bad.

    • Joan Wylder on July 12, 2016 at 9:40 pm
    • Reply

    Kristen, my deepest sympathies and thoughts for you and your family.

    This is an outstanding post and I thank you for sharing it. I don’t have a blog but do have a web domain so I need to get busy. I think for me, I’ve considered myself a writer for some time, and now that I have two short stories published, I’m comfortable saying I’m an author.
    Thanks again.

  51. Thank goodness I didn’t have to raise my hand and slap myself with it! Calling myself ‘aspiring’ was about the only point you made that doesn’t fit me at one time or another. Most I can overcome or work around in a way that suits me and still gets me what I want. I wrote and sold my first book in less than one year. I’m a successful writer!

    But my biggest hang-up is worrying what others (family, church members, friends) think of me writing romance. It sticks me every time there is any sort of love scene required or would come as a natural progression of a story. Why? You touched on it. How we older gals were raised. My gramma’s words won’t. Leave. Me. Alone. “Sex belongs in the bedroom, behind closed doors, and ONLY between a man and wife.” Which means I shouldn’t see, much less show, that scene at all. *sigh* How do I get around that one? I still keep taking baby steps toward ridding myself of that one thing.

    As usual, tracking back and reblogging this post. Keep up the awesome posts, Kristen!

  52. This is awesome. Thanks for the reminders and the inspiration.

  53. Ironically enough in my 50 hour work wk, four kids from 11-21 a mortgage, a spouse, church responsibilities, and regular family I had the day off today. And I grab my coffee and find YOU! Every word was coming straight from grandmothers and great grandmothers mouths telling me “If you want to do something YOU do it now and you do it the way YOU want to do it! You don’t worry about someone’s thoughts about you, they don’t matter you do!”

    God help the men in this world because you just unleashed a whole pack of lionesses !!

    And I’ll be correcting my name EVERYWHERE now. Because frankly I’m a bit scared of you. And that’s okay, it’s one hell of a push.

    Thank you.

    • barryknister on July 14, 2016 at 9:51 am
    • Reply

    Hi Kristen. I’d leave a comment, but I can’t find my cup. You keep sharpening those elbows, though, and stick with the kickboxing. If you don’t have one already (hard to believe), be sure to get an open-carry permit–Mace is just too girly.

    1. I’d prefer a CCW, Barry, but I live in the Republic of California, where the only ones allowed to carry firearms are the gang members & their girlfriends in my neighborhood.

  54. “I feel women are far more afraid of failure than men. We wait to be “perfect.” We can’t say anything until we have the perfect book. But perfect is the enemy of the good. Do it afraid.”

    I love this! Thank you for this affirmation.

  55. A good swift kick in the butt! Thanks for that. And maybe it will jar loose some of the good girl and let the other one step up!

  56. I needed this. I’m in this place right now where I’m starting to interact with other writers but I’m nervous about putting my work out there. Which is weird for me. I’ve put out writing on the internet before, but suddenly I’m in a writing group where I’m acquainted with the people who will be reading my stuff and it makes me nervous. Moreover, I’m considering joining this critique group that will be happening at a convention but I’m hesitating because I’m not sure my work is “good enough” for a critique group. I guess I’m just letting myself be scared of nothing!

    1. I’ve spoken with a few writers and writing educators that are not in favor of joining writing critique groups. There is a tendency to be critical for the sake of being critical. There can also be an element of competitiveness and some people are just plain literary snobs. I’m more into beta readers in the genre you write in. Giving someone who doesn’t like mysteries a mystery book to read doesn’t make sense. Find a group of people who enjoy reading your genre and ask them to check out your book or story. They read a lot of your genre. They know what they like and they don’t like. And, in truth, they are your real audience. If you’re already so insecure the your work isn’t “good enough” for a critique group, you can be setting yourself up for unnecessary disaster. (Oh, and in the beta readers, if a friend or family member is in there, make sure they know you want an honest read.) Beta readers can give you good, honest results without needlessly tearing your guts out.

      Do you want to be Hemingway, or Shakespeare? Maybe. But if you just want to be a good writer that people can also enjoy, have fun with it. I hear Stephen King detests James Patterson, but Patterson not only entertains millions of readers, shares his writing platform with other writers, supports small bookstores, schools, and libraries, he makes it a point of getting kids to read so there are generations of readers to come. That’s not half bad, in my book.

      Happy writing. Let go of the insecurity and just go for it.

      1. Thanks for this!

    • ratherearnestpainter on July 14, 2016 at 11:00 pm
    • Reply

    I do believe that this is the first blog post of yours that I read, a few months ago. I don’t know how I stumbled across it, but I do remember reading it and this excellent post was why I chose to follow you.

    But really, who says, “I want to take a picture. Hold on while I get my phone”? I mean, who doesn’t already have their phone in their hand or at the very least in their pocket?

    1. LMAO… Me.

  57. Reblogged this on Jeannie Hall Suspense and commented:
    Advice for those modest, nice-girl writers out there… (I used to be one.)

  58. Good! I’m a bit of a mix- naturally very shy, but I do also tend to get on better with guys. Women do behave differently and we do need to change our mindsets to succeed.

  59. One swift slap across the face. I’m terrified but working it anyway. I want to print this blog and keep it as my daily mantra. Hooray, to woman & owning it!

  60. Reblogged on and commented:
    Put your hands up if your an aspiring author…

  61. I am such a pathetic good girl. This is the post I need, so thank you for shoving a mirror in my face and making me look.
    The only things I’ve got right: I use my own name on my blog. I’ve completed three novels.
    For the rest, a very long way to go.

  62. Thanks for this one, Kristen. I have a website and blog (I hardly ever post) and use my own name on Twitter, but find every excuse in the book to procrastinate. My one writing achievement is finishing the first draft of my younger MG book. I keep saying it’s not an achievement because it’s only 12,000 words instead of 80,000, but it’s a complete book for 8 to 10 year olds, so it’s exactly the length it should be for my audience.

  63. This is just what I needed to hear at this particular time. Thank you. Fritzie von Jessen, writer.

  64. This is just what I needed to hear at this particular time (as I procrastinate on my novel). Thank you. Fritzie von Jessen, writer.

  65. A kick up the rump works wonders; better than a pat on the head.

  66. Holy crap-ticles, I totally needed to read this today and while I am glad I don’t have too many Good Girl qualities (much to my mother’s disappointment and horror) I have enough that I still need to kick my own ass, pull on a pair of pointy horns and revel in my Bad Girl status. Awesome post.

  67. I can’t tell you how many times I said, “F*ck Yeah!” while I was reading your post. I NEEDED to hear this in the worst way.

  68. Reblogged this on Illuminated Literation and commented:
    I NEEDED to hear this.

  69. I’m very sorry to hear you had death in the family, Kristen! Thinking about you and your family!

  70. Reblogged this on Writer's Treasure Chest and commented:
    Kristen Lamb re-published one of her great and fun posts and I decided to re-blog it quoting her: “… because we all need a good kick in the ass now and again, even ME.” Enjoy the post. And yes… I definitely needed this now! Thank you very much Kristen!

  71. Many purrs. Lionesses don’t ever apologize. Your post was wonderful. Thanks for that,

  72. Reblogged this on Wild and Woolly Wordsmithing and commented:
    Awesome blog. Have to boost the signal! I am Author. Hear me ululate!

  73. Awesome blog — thanks!

  74. More than awesome! You pretty much preached directly to me! I receive it! YESSSS! I was online working on lesson plans and saw the email. I actually took the time to read it and I am literally, heart pounding excited and ready to blow up! I got this, thank you so much for your honesty!!!

    1. GO YOU! *waves pom poms*

  75. Reblogged this on KimKnight_Author and commented:
    I love this. I like #4 of the “bad girl” . I think every aspiring female author/writer should give this a read.

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