Today we’re going to have a talk about LIES. Deception, half-truths, misinformation, and twisted realities. In my post about the success paradox we discussed how thoughts impact us in very real and tangible ways.
Our belief systems are like our ‘programming’ but malware abounds, very often in the form of lies. If we fail to recognize the lies and internalize them as ‘truths’ it’s akin to opening that infected PDF in our e-mail….
Welcome to the Blue Screen of Doom. Only it’s in our head.
For those who read the post, I suggested some exercises at the end to get a bead on what you really believe regarding success. Before I dive into this, I want y’all to grasp one fundamental fact about the human brain.
The mind cannot tell the difference between truth and lie. What we tell it, it simply accepts and obeys. Keep that ‘in mind’ as we continue.
A World of Lies
Why are you really doing this writing thing? If it’s for fun or a hobby then read no further. For those who want to be professionals? Take heed.
Lies can come in the form of all-or-nothing-thinking. Cute sayings that sound noble, self-effacing, humble and make us appear super nice. They seem innocent, but they’re progress poison.
Let’s use some common examples. Every time I write any post regarding wealth or success, inevitably I get responses in the comments like:
There are more important things in life than success.
Money doesn’t matter the most. What about love?
I’m here to write great stories, not for the money.
All three? LIES. Utter and complete garbage. Bear with me as we unpack these.
There Are More Important Things Than Success
Just because success isn’t the most important thing doesn’t automatically make it therefore unimportant. Prioritizing our dreams doesn’t immediately necessitate we a) abandon our families b) give no figs about world issues or c) seek to GUT anyone who might stand in our way faster than Cersie Lannister on bath salts.
If we’re constantly declaring success isn’t the most important thing in life, then why are we shocked when we can’t seem to get ahead? Success IS extremely important.
No one starts anything—a marriage, a family, a business, a novel—and thinks, ‘OMG, I cannot wait to fail at this. It will be AWESOME. My goal is to spend a ton of money, time and energy on my dreams for…NOTHING.’
When we say stupid things like, There are more important things than success we’re unwittingly programming in self-sabotaging behavior. We’re far more likely to put off our writing and treat it like a cute little hobby. We won’t invest money in learning to be better because who invests in the unimportant?
Also, we’re inadvertently dooming ourselves to amateur/hobbyist status because guess what, my sweeties….
To professionals? Success is VERY important.
Money Isn’t THAT Big of a Deal
*cough* Bu!!$#!* Yes, I know love, joy, happiness and self-fulfillment are important and matter. But here again we’re back in the same dumb@$$ thinking we had with success.
Which ‘matters most?’ Your heart or your lungs? Come on! Tick tock. Choose!
Money matters. Despite what people might say, money’s a pretty big deal. In fact, the lie that money doesn’t matter has been one of the main ways MEGA MEDIA brands have gotten away with using writers as their personal serfs. Convince writers money is bad and that asking to be paid for their work is dirty…and they’ll line up to work for likes, feel-goods, and ‘exposure dollars.’
When money matters, we start thinking like professionals. A hard lesson I am still learning:
You don’t get what you work for, you get what you negotiate.
Plenty of bloggers churn out amazing content for absurdly wealthy brands for free (exposure). If we claim money doesn’t matter, this sets us up to be preyed on by those who value money…a lot.
Um…the hell? No offense Mr. Editor, but…
Blogging aside, let’s talk books. A lot of authors work hard and are still broke. Even authors with great books. Why? Because when we claim ‘money isn’t all that matters’ we’re less likely to learn the business side of our business.
This leads to a) ignoring it b) delegating it. Delegating our business isn’t necessarily bad but unless we’re educated we’re unable to discern a good plan from a bad deal.
When writers prioritize being paid, we’re more likely to invest time, energy, money in areas where we’ll eventually benefit financially (I.e. blog on our own website). We’ll also step up our game, value our work and believe we’re entitled to reap the rewards.
That is What Businesses DO
Businesses want to be successful and also believe money is a super huge deal. Even non-profits prioritize money! The Red Cross doesn’t run on thoughts and prayers. We writers need to reevaluate what we believe about money and how it relates to US.
Why is it okay for the owners of websites like Huffington Post to make hundreds of millions off the hard work of unpaid labor? And to act as if they’re doing some benevolent service by grifting thirteen thousand creatives in the UK alone?
What other industry could get away with this? Can you imagine engineers, surgeons, or even construction workers being paid in exposure? NO. Why then is it okay to do to us? Why are we enabling profiteering parasites?
The reason writers aren’t calling out this injustice is we’ve been groomed to believe their LIES. Too many of us believe big brands are doing US a favor by posting our work to their vast audience, but riddle me this….
If our writing is so shoddy we need to give it away for free (and be grateful), why do the big brands want our posts in the first place? How are these MEGA MEDIA brands raking in hundreds of millions of dollars (via ads) off writing that isn’t even worth paying the creators a single solitary dollar for?
The fundamental difference is businesses believe a) success matters b) money is important and c) they’re offering a product consumers want. The mega media brands know those surfing the web are in search of great content. Readers want to click on blogs about fashion, dating, family, gardening, pets, etc.
Yet, be careful. These brands also want writers posting for THEM so THEY make the money…which means they’ll also post a bunch of blogs about how blogs are dying and no longer popular.
How the hell does that make any sense on any level? Critical thinking here.
If blogs are dying, then what the heck are we reading when we’re being told blogging is a dying form? Smoke signals? Jazz hands? No, we are reading a BLOG telling us BLOGS are dying.
It’s a mental game to make us insecure, a lie to convince us we can’t do it on our own. The mega brands know if we blog on our site and create our own following, we (eventually) make the money and not them.
I Just Want to Write Great Stories
Wonderful! All the more reason to take success seriously. Professionals hone their skills. They read and study and take classes and seek out mentors. Also—just pointing this out—why are we acting like this is an ‘either-or’ scenario? Why not both? Why do we believe we must choose?
FUN FACT: We can write great stories and also make money. #MindBlown
In fact, the more money we make, the more time we can dedicate to writing even better books. The more capital we have on hand to invest in training, refining our skills, and creating a better product…the more good books there are in the world.
Society likes to promote this caricature of the ‘starving artist’ when, in reality, the highest paid people in the world technically don’t work ‘real jobs.’ Last I checked J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, James Patterson and George R.R. Martin aren’t panhandling at stoplights for spare change.
Our culture spends billions on entertainment, but the entertainers making money aren’t working for free. These entertainers (authors included) believe they have a right to be paid for what they create.
Also, if Amazon can make billions of dollars of profit, writers can make bank, too. Write excellent books and price them to reflect actual value. If our book honestly is good enough to be published at all, then we don’t need to cat-fight over fractions of KU pennies. And, if we are playing that ‘game’? Then deep down maybe our book wasn’t quite ready to be published after all.
Food for thought.
What Do You Believe?
Why are writers blogging for super wealthy brands for free? Why are so many writers churning out a gazillion hastily scribbled books for Amazon? A number of reasons.
As we mentioned, we’ve been groomed to be nice. It’s bad manners to self-promote and gauche to talk about money. We’re afraid of business because we don’t understand it and thus the ‘starving artist facade’ allows us a pass when it comes to learning skills and subjects that scare the crap out of us.
We want someone else to do that icky stuff so we can create *hair flip*.
Get good at the icky stuff and make money? We’ll have time to write more books and make even more money. Make enough money and eventually we can PAY people to do that icky stuff 😉 .
Another reason writers (and creatives) are so willing to work for free or for pennies is deep down we don’t really believe what we’re writing is worth paying for.
And *grimaces* sometimes we might even be correct. There is a learning curve to this. First we must LEARN, then later we can drop the L.
It’s easy to self-publish on Amazon then blame the lack of a marketing budget or our poor promotional skills for shoddy sales. You know what’s hard? Brutal even? Taking an honest look at our work admitting it needs to be better…a lot better.
Hey, I’ve been there. Y’all have NO idea how happy I am self-publishing wasn’t an option when I wrote my first ‘novel.’
The one that pees on the carpets and bites.
Yes, I want writers to understand the business of our business because it improves odds of success and protects y’all (and me) against predation. A MAJOR part of business involves brutal honesty about the product. If something isn’t selling, WHY?
If it can be fixed, then how? Fix it. If not? Then stop throwing more money at it. Nobody wanted New Coke no matter how many celebrities promoted it. If our book sucks, write a better one. Up our game and hone our skills. More promotion isn’t going to sell a crappy book nobody wanted in the first place.
Want to BE Free? Stop Being FOR Free
I’d like to posit a friendly challenge. Take some time and consider what you’re worth. What is the actual value of your writing? The MEGA MEDIA brands have almost all jumped on the exposure dollar bandwagon, paying writers with bragging rights while using euphemisms like ‘contributors’ so that profiting off a massive unpaid workforce seems less ‘icky.’
Tossing out a challenge.
Is that post you created for X MEGA BRAND worth at least one dollar? If it is, then they need to pay you that dollar or don’t post. This all has to begin with us. If we don’t value our work, no one else will either.
And yes, I blog ‘for free’ here, but free is part of a larger strategy that serves my goals. I own my content. My blogs build MY brand, MY following, MY SEO, MY credibility. I’m here cultivating MY future fans by serving them. My blog is a mechanism to drive class sales and book sales.
Anyone who guest posts here usually is teaching a class where they are paid generously BY ME. Because I VALUE them. Also, because I’m able to make money with classes, this means I can afford to tip the photographers at Pexel (a site that’s created ways their ‘contributors’ can be rewarded financially).
Our books? What are they truly worth? Might be time to get brave and raise the price. We had a saying in sales: Value perceived is value achieved.
The Lies END HERE
We should be grateful for exposure (LIE). Exposure is a worthless currency and has been since Paris Hilton was cool. We need the power of big brands to build our tiny brand (MAJOR LIE). Major brands will use our own writing to destroy our brand by cannibalizing our SEO. Notice there’s no place for a shopping cart to sell our BOOKS where we might make money, but plenty of space for ads where THEY make millions.
When we blog for free for a MEGA MEDIA brand we enhance our resume and up our value (LIE). We are a battery.
Amazon, iBooks and the Big Five have all the power (LIE). Write excellent books and cultivate a following (via social media/blog/multiple books) and you can bring your terms to the table.
I need to price my books low because of competition (LIE). Last I checked George R.R. Martin was not the only epic fantasy writer, so why aren’t his books 99 cents?
Yes, I have on my sassy pants today. I know this is scary but we can do this. Do it afraid, but do it. According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2018 is the year of the Dog. Don’t know about you but, while I’m willing to work like a dog, I’m nobody’s b*tch 😛 .
I love hearing from you!
And am not above bribery!
What do you WIN? For the month of JANUARY, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
Master Class: How to Write a Series
Taught by Kristen Lamb AND Cait Reynolds…together…in same room. It’ll be fun! Class is NEXT FRIDAY January 19th, 7-10 PM EST in our W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom. $75 for a three hour class of intensive education and lots of shenanigans.
A free recording is included with class purchase…though we reserve the right to edit out anything that can and will be used against us in a court of law.
Your Life as a Story: How to Write a Memoir
Instructor: Cait Reynolds
Price: $65.00 USD
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
Date: Friday, January 26th, 2018. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST
We all have a story to tell, something worth preserving or even sharing. This might be the tale of our own life, or the life of someone dear to us. Maybe we long to capture oral histories of relatives before the living past disappears forever.
Regardless, the memoir is a genre that requires an approach, voice, and technique vastly different from fiction.
Topics we cover in this class include:
- Developing the thematic frame of the memoir;
- Creating a compelling narrative structure out of facts and timelines;
- The art of the follow-up question: going beyond the generic questionnaires to dig deep and mine memories to get the extraordinary details and important information;
- Developing and refining your memoirist voice;
- Knowing when extra research is needed, what is needed, and how to find it;
- Filling in the gaps when no information exists;
- Understanding legal constraints (i.e. libel) and how to maneuver around them yet maintain story integrity;
- Recreating dialogue and excerpting from original documents (letters, journals, etc.);
- Positioning your memoir for multiple markets.
****As always a free recording is included with class purchase.
I really enjoyed this article. I’m very new to the publishing world (I’ll be self-publishing my first novel by the end of January) and I rely on the advice and experience of established authors to help guide me. Thanks for posting.
Yes! Another epic “Pay the Writer” rant 🙂
I’ve been at that point for a while now. I’m so sick of spending all my time / money / energy writing more and better books, only to get shafted right and left by the distributors who are making all the money.
I have yet to release my first book, but I am still trying to get up to date with the business side of the industry. There is information out there about it. Yes, learning it eats some of your writing or reading time, but it feels more important than ever to spend some of that time on this.
A bit of research shows even many mid-list authors are now shying away from KU. It’s truly the only way to make Amazon listen is to not give them content.
I don’t work my day job for free, and while I love writing, I’d like to receive recompense for the hours and hours spent creating a world for others to enjoy. At least when I DM, people bring me food.
By far, this is the best blog for writers anywhere and everywhere.
Great post, Kristen. I love you! (in an entirely non-sexual, lady-crush way) I am going to whine, which sounds better as whinge (Brit. term). I know everything you have said is true. Why am I still floundering after years of writing? Why? 1) Because I made a stupid mistake and gave my books to a small-time publisher who keeps making mistakes at my expense yet will charge me too much per book to get my rights back. That was in 2014. 2) I have failed to master the business side, the marketing, the SEO, the actual selling of my books. I believe I could spend every day, all day, posting pithy comments on blogs where readers might hang out, writing my own invisible blog on my invisible website as I’ve been doing for years, trying an occasional FB ad or Bookbub ad, but I don’t seem to get anywhere. No traction. Go into KDP Select and KU, yes! Yank books back out, exclusive is evil! Go exclusive, go wide. The only times my books have made money since I gave them to the publisher was with a BB ad (which, of course, I could have done by myself without incurring the publisher’s fees). A sales spike (especially if the publisher puts my entire boxed set on sale for 99cents, which I detest, then a drop back to the bottom of the heap, despite good to great reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. Whinge, whinge, whinge. Ok,I’m done whinging. Thank you, Kristen, for your pep talks, your great posts, your cutting through the BS. It all keeps me going. WANA.
Lies. They are SO important to excellent character creation and believable motivations in fiction.
They aren’t so great in the real world of author-ship.
Thanks for addressing the biggest lies our insecure writer brain wants to believe.
As for the business side of writing, ugh. I’m trying to learn it. I’m trying to do it. But I still don’t like it.
I’d rather be writing.
But since I’d also rather have people reading what I’ve written, I’ll continue to learn the business of being an author. Thanks for the help you give along the way.
I always communicate in Jazz Hands…I was so excited to see you include it!
I also began recording all the ‘artiste’ writers who jazzed me up for not be true to the art of writing, because I set rates, stood by them, and knew that some people would pay good money for different types of good writing. These recordings serve as reminders of the up-their-butts writers and their romanticized view of writing.
The ‘tainted’ money I make from writing various copy [woman in back screams ‘sell-out!] allows me to write my blood-ink stories and novels. Said stories and novels, well, stories, are occasionally published (novels haven’t ‘cured’ sufficiently to see the light of day) and even less occasionally, they created moderate sums of money.
So glad you got yer sassy pants on today… Year of the dog, eh? okay…that’s okay…
Thanks for scraping the muck off and giving it to us straight, as always.
Thank you, Kristen. It took many years to realize I didn’t need to give my writing away. It’s heartening to find others who have discovered the same thing. If we’re going to starve, we might as well charge and find a few who are willing to pay for our stories.
Pennies for a smile brought by one of my stories is better than a fat cat laughing down his sleeve because he uses slave labor to fill his own pockets.
Yes, yes, and yes! I hear through several blogs that Instagram posts now will reach only 10% of your readers…something that Facebook has been doing for some time now. (And of course, they own Instagram). It is rapidly becoming a game of not ONLY working for free, but also “pay to play,” in that to reach your potential clients you’ll have to use the advertising services of Facebook, Amazon, etc….very discouraging. It will all sort itself out eventually, and in the meantime, I’ll keep writing. Thanks for speaking out for all of us.
Another awesome post (as usual). And for all that excellent advice, I just can’t get the mental picture of Cersie Lannister on bath salts out of my head, lol. That’s a level of crazy comparable to Spinal Tap’s amps going to 11.
I have spent the last few months hacking my way through the business jungle, and I think I can see a tiny bit of blue sky in the distance. (Here’s hoping it’s not just some exotic fungus.)
I’ve got paperbacks going wide, and (soon!) ebooks will be available on my own site – because the paperback distributor was only offering me 40% of the list price on ebooks! As the guy from The Castle says, “Tell him he’s dreaming!”
What you say is so true. Yet mega brands depend on the never-ending procession of eager, naive, writers. There’s so much to learn; every day there must be half-a-dozen ‘must-read’ emails arriving in my inbox (that’s apart from all the endless junk clogging my box). All enticing. All interesting. All of it takes you away from your writing. I don’t know if you’ll get anywhere with your message. Probably not, because we’re all overwhelmed with ‘stuff’ every day. And it just keeps coming! I’d love to learn more about the business side of being an author, but so far I’ve had to concentrate on perfecting my formatting, writing a good story, learning the ins and outs of book funnel, gimp, and a whole host of other things. I wasn’t brought up in this techno age, so I struggle, I take courses, I struggle some more. Aargh! My poor brain can’t take much more before it goes into meltdown.
Great post, as always. I love it when you put your sassy pants on!
I am going to whine (whinge?) just a little about the business/marketing aspect of this crazy business. Why does it have to be such a moving target? You find something that works, and then it stops working because everybody is doing it and readers get tired of it. *sigh*
I am very grateful that I am starting to make enough money now to hire out a lot of business/marketing tasks (and yes, I have a great VA; she’s a WANA of course!)
Keep preachin’ to us, Mama WANA! We need your reminders, for sure.
“Pull your head in” – Aussie for shut up.” * “Don’t get inflated ideas.” * “No, you can’t do that” (as in you’re not clever enough.) This has been the story of my life. As a child/teen I was always taught I need to be humble, not think I’m anything special. This leads to the situation where you think people are doing you a favour, or saying nice things about your writing because they feel sorry for you. My first novel (unpublished) is a labour of love six years in the making. After entering it in an unpublished MS competition, it was short listed. Then when it made as one of six finalists out of eighty-nine entries, my first reaction was, “Gee, the other entries must have been bad.” Yes, I know…it was a terrible reaction – an affront to not only the other writers and the judges, but also me.
Marketing and the business side of writing terrifies me. Old habits learned young and reinforced through your first forty years are not easy to break. Anyone know of a good “building self-confidence” course? 🙂
Brilliant. Love your style, and I love what you’ve said. Time to value what we do.
Those are all excellent points, and partly why I’m trying my hand at short story contests (while working on my novel). I figure if I can (ever) achieve even an honorable mention, I might get some new readers, and snowball from there. But so far, everything’s a work in progress, including my blog…
I love how you call places like Huffington Post out. Does that editor really believe we’re buying into that baloney? Thanks for having our back, Kristen!
There’s much to contemplate here, but essentially I agree with you. Money is important and payment should be fair.Sadly, we can’t live on love alone.
Great post Kristen!
As a writer who is currently expanding into an office and a PA I can tell you…WE NEED TO GET PAID.
The key for me is owning that readers want my books and are willing to PAY for them and more importantly that it’s not just okay, but GOOD to be paid for your work.
Keep the amazing posts coming Kristen! Happy 2018!
Best writing coach ever!
What do I believe? Very little. I need evidence, facts, logic, reason. Believing is for fools. Knowing is the only thing that gets you anywhere. I have found that in practice,every business is the same, it is always money before humanity, it’s always psychopathic. But are we not a believer nation; be it religion or ideology people rather believe than know and will reject facts that upsets belief. Faith and belief it’s self is the worst overriding human psychological problem. Authoritarians and profiteers take advantage of one’s faith at every turn. (vanity and predatory presses) Ubiquitous faith socialization leads one to believe you can’t be in the club when the facts say otherwise. facts are dangerous and perhaps that’s why we can’t face them. Most of us can’t be honest with ourselves, we don’t want to know personnel truths or what is true and what is not in the world. We can’t admit things like, maybe we can’t write well. Self lies are both damaging and protective. Raw reality is hard to take, but facing the facts is the first step of progress.
Excellent post! I say free the author!
Love this post. It’s funny isn’t it (or maybe not.) How we tell ourselves were just doing it for the love. I can really relate to this. I’m not out to write a novel but I would like to make my blog a full time business at some point in the future. Yet, I agonised for the last two days over whether to post a disclaimer about the affiliate links I was posting in my blog as it was my first time using them. In the end I decided that my readers are grown ups! They can handle the fact that I would like to make some money from what I do in my spare time, that I eventually would like to turn into a career and possibly not have to spend 40 hours and upwards hours a week with people who make me tired, angry and sad! Rigorous honesty and gratitude. I hate advertisements so affiliates are my only hope… If someone wants my copy (please, please, please let someone want my copy!) they can damn well pay for it.
Keep those sassy pants handy and well pressed, you will be needing them a lot. Great post and loved the “Truth Bomb” header.
You go, Kristen! I love how you figured out what was happening and how you’ve exposed these mega sites for taking advantage of writers. I say no more! Keep going. You’re on a roll!
I never fail to be amazed by the number of people who think that a cup of fancy coffee at Starbucks, which took the barista three minutes to make, is worth over $4.00, but a book that took an author a year to write should be $.99 or free. You’re right: People will pay for your work when you say that your work is worth being paid for. Just like all products and services either have a price or tease someone with a free item to gain their loyalty as a customer. Welcome to Life, right? Thanks for another great post, Kristen!
There’s definitely something to learn in each one of the posts. Thanks for teaching us!
Here! Here! Years ago, I told a friend I wanted to write for the Huffington Post. About a year later, people were congratulating me for being published on the site. I thought they’d made a mistake until I checked it out. HP re-published one of my blog posts without a word to me. Let’s just say I crossed off that goal with a bitter taste in my mouth. They lost my admiration and respect with their betrayal. There’s no coming back from that.
All good stuff. All of it I needed to hear. I’m too good at being the pushover and self-doubter. Thanks for the dose of reality!