Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Lamnee
So, you think you have a knack for writing and have heard that these days you do not need to knock at the doors of traditional publishers to become famous. Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Nobles, Apple, Smashwords and other e-retailers have given you the option to publish your own books.
You feel that there is nothing that can now separate you from your readers.
You then get down to writing and take a few months to finish your magnum opus. Your friends and family members help you with editing. You are a little nervous about e-book formatting and cover designing. You watch a few video tutorials on You Tube.
After watching these, you confidently format your books. You design the cover on your own or a friend skilled in Photoshop or PowerPoint helps you out and you finally hit the publish button.
After 12 hours, you receive a message from KDP that your book is now live on the Amazon store.
You celebrate with your friends and family members. Wow, your book is available for purchase in over 100 countries, and not just the USA.
You are now an international Author!
You login to your KDP account the next day and check your sales report.
“No sales to report during this period” says the KDP dashboard. You are not disappointed. After all, this is only the first day.
You broadcast the message, on Facebook and Twitter, to all your friends and family members. You then get back to login to your KDP dashboard to check the sales figures, every day.
Nothing. Zilch. You realise that for months, you did not sell even a single copy.
This makes you angry, frustrated and overwhelmed. You had heard of Authors selling 200 copies a day. And of those million dollar advances that Dan Brown gets from traditional publishers. Now you start getting depressed.
“Am I the only fool who is not selling even a single copy”, you think to yourself.
You begin to have self-doubts. You believe that there must be something that you are doing wrong. So you start surfing the internet as to what other successful authors do.
You read about building an Author Platform and building an e-mail list containing thousands of subscribers. Some advise you to blog. Others say podcasting or creating You Tube Videos is better. You read something about Social Media.
You read articles, and sometimes books, with the following titles:
“How I earned a six figure income using Twitter.”
“How to leverage Facebook to build a huge fan following.”
You are told that Pinterest is great, that all Authors should use Tumblr or Squidoo. No, no, Stumble Upon is the next shining thing. This leaves you extremely overwhelmed.
You wonder how successful Authors have built such a huge following. You want to live your dreams but you don’t know what steps to take. You are swayed by powerful negative emotions. You have to pay your mortgage, and your children’s school fees. After six months of hand wringing, your wife now thinks that you should probably take up a REAL job.
You desperately want to be the Author who has written over 40 Kindle books, has a vibrant blog with over 1000 articles, Podcasts and Videos and has over 30,000 followers on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.
The million dollar question is: how can you achieve that?
The solution is shockingly simple. There are no magic pills or potions as Mr. Warren Adler, Author of the “War of the Roses”, once said.
You need to adopt habits of all successfully self-published authors and change your mind-set.
If you feel confused and perplexed, let me show you how to go about this.
1 Accept the fact that building an Author Platform takes time
Rome wasn’t built in a day and nor will be your Author Platform. This was my first realisation. The sooner you accept this, the better it will be for you. Do not be too impressed by reading about that Author who is selling 200 copies in a day; instead read about his or her struggling days. This is the first change in habit that you need to make.
Most authors are pretty honest about their struggling days. They will tell you that in their first year, they literally sold a few copies. A few! I heard a podcast interview of Steve Scott where he mentioned that he has been running online businesses since 2005, and it is now 2014! He talked about the days when he floundered and tried to make money out of loopholes that soon closed.
This will make you realise that you are not the only dude who is struggling to make a living.
2 Take things slowly
Understand that you need to take things slowly to their logical conclusion. Always remember that:
Small, smart choices + consistency + time= Massive Results
Therefore, do not be in a hurry to jump at everything you read or hear. Remain focussed. Write one book, publish it and use the KDP Select Promo days efficiently. Then move on to write another book. You not only need to develop good habits but need to be also consistent.
3 Channelize negative emotions to yield positive results
Remember, your biggest weakness would be your negative emotions.
“When will I become successful?”
“Am I moving in the right direction?”
“Life was much better a few years ago.”
“How will I pay bills this month?”
“How much time will it all take?”
You would be very sensitive to criticism. But if you hear and read some author interviews, you will realize that you are not the only one encountering these emotions. Sometimes negative emotions can be paralyzing. Many authors give up on their dreams because they get crippled by such negative emotions.
But negative emotions may not be such a bad thing after all. This is what I learnt the hard way. A few years back I used to work in a posh corporate law firm. I had no great desire to rise to the top, so I never felt frustrated.
Now I want to rise to the top and sometimes feel very impatient about it. But that is a good thing. You can only move up if you so desire. My negative emotions are simply telling me to work harder and develop good habits that will take me to newer heights.
So if the thought of paying your mortgages scares you, it only means that you should be writing more and working harder.
Your negative emotions can be the biggest factor in your success. Channelize it well. Whenever you are swayed by negative emotions, interpret these to motivate you than depress.
4 Treat your Writing Career as a Full Time Profession
Most Authors have a day job but some (like me) work from home. The trouble about working from home is that you do not consider your writing career as a full time day job.
It is very easy to wander. You do not feel like writing. You think that you are probably unemployed.
I think this is the biggest disservice you are doing to yourself and to your writing profession.
The most important thing to do is to challenge this mentality. Do not consider yourself worthless or unemployed. Instead think that you are a self-employed Author Entrepreneur. I love to call myself that.
When I used to work in a corporate law firm, I found that it did not operate on a 9-5 fixed working hours basis. Most of the days, your boss would dump a pile of work at 6 p.m. and ask you to finish all that the very same night.
“Haven’t you heard about going the extra mile…” your bosses would tell you. And you had no option but to happily accept the work and work all night and often on weekends.
Why not have the very same mind-set when you are working on your own? Why not consider your writing job as your day job? Why not write every day thinking that this is what you are being paid to do, as you would have with any other employment?
The moment I started considering my writing career as my new job, wonderful things started to happen. In my law firm days, I hated my work and did not feel like going to office on a Monday morning. Now I look forward to beginning my day whether it is writing a new book, a guest post, or a message to my e-mail subscribers.
5 Keep Writing
One of the major reasons for failure for authors is that some writers don’t spend enough time writing.
My father jokes that you cannot be a writer without writing anything.
If you look at all successful authors, they have all written more than one book. Some have written over 40 books while others have written at least 10.
As a writer, make it a habit to write every day whether you are writing a new book or a blog post/guest post. I understand that developing this new habit can be difficult. But it will pay to develop one.
Most writers have a ritual before they write. I feel that I am pretty fresh during mornings. However, when I actually sit down to write, I realise that I need to warm up. Ideas do not flow easily.
So sometimes I listen to music. This relaxes me. Or I read something motivational, usually a success story of a creative person, be it an artist, actor or a self-published author. This fuels me for the day and I soon get into the mood for writing.
When I start writing, I have noticed that I do not stop. The most difficult part is writing the first few hundred words, after that it is easy.
Other Authors block their social media accounts, switch off their cell phones and ask their family members not to disturb them, while they lock themselves up in a quiet room and write for two hours, without a break.
So find out what works for you and “routinize” it.
6 Do one thing at a time
A better idea is to concentrate on one thing at a time. Decide what you want to do TODAY.
If I am writing a book, I sometimes decide that I am only going to write my book today and do nothing else.
On certain days, I only write more blog posts and messages for my e-mail subscribers.
On some days when I don’t feel like writing, I will read a new book on self-publishing and try to implement those ideas into practice.
Focussing on one thing is always easier than juggling so many.
7 Do one thing in a year
As a self-published author, you have to wear many hats. You have to write your next book, build relationships with influencers and readers, be active on social media and also focus on content marketing.
As Joanna Penn says, many authors try to write books, be active on Facebook and Twitter, create videos and podcasts, blog and when nothing works in about a week, they burn out and give up.
Steve Scott on many occasions has spoken about the 80/20 rule and hanging out on one or two social media networks only. I take this advice seriously and have started only with Twitter and Google Plus. In two months’ time, my twitter followers have grown to over 400. In a year’s time, I hope that this number crosses 1000.
I didn’t set up a Facebook fan page because I don’t like the fact that I need to pay money to Facebook to interact with my fans.
I am only concentrating on blogging and writing more books. Hopefully, in a year or two, when I’m a little stable with my blog, I may venture into podcasts or making You Tube videos. Or I may like to stick around with blogging only.
This way, you ensure that you remain focussed on a few tasks. Remember it is a long term game. So it is important to slowly change your habits for a long lasting impact.
8 Uptime and Downtime
Small changes in habit and time management can ensure that you can focus on writing and also engage with your fans on social media and e-mail.
Every author has an uptime and downtime. Use your uptime for your most productive work and downtime for interacting on social media or in learning a new skill.
I find that I am the freshest in the mornings (like most authors). However, I have also realised that I need a warm up session to clear my thoughts.
So I spend a few minutes (hardly 5-10) on social media. I “follow back” some of my followers on Twitter. I also like reading something motivational in the morning. A great success story of an artist or tips on becoming a better author or marketer. This is generally enough to charge me for the day.
I share these articles on Twitter, Google Plus and Stumble Upon by using the share button at the side or at the end of these articles. My shared articles are quite often “retweeted”, “favourited” and “plus oned” on social media.
If I am in the mood, I tweet influencers. I don’t ask for any favours but simply show my gratefulness to that person for a tip or idea that may have impressed me.
Then I log out of social media and spend most of my day writing. I decide whether I need to write my book or write a blog post and stick to it.
In the evenings when I feel I’m a little dull, I listen to podcasts or watch videos about the self-publishing industry. Whatever I learn, I try to implement.
I can understand that it can be very difficult to write a 30,000 word book and also blog at the same time. Plus you also need to engage with your subscribers. I blog twice a month so that my blogs look updated to all visitors. This strategy is better than writing 20 blog posts in a month and then not post anything after that.
I write a blog post in such a way that it can easily be turned into an email to subscribers. Whenever I update my blog, I also send an e-mail to my subscribers and share the blog post on social media using the share button.
It is in this way that I am able to ensure that I not only finish a 30,000 word or so book in a month but also keep my blog updated, engage with my subscribers and followers on social media, and remain updated about the self-publishing industry, all in one go.
9 Keep learning
It is always good to have a beginner’s mind-set and to shun complacency. Accept the fact that you are not an expert and that you need to learn and practice what those greats in your industry are suggesting and doing. I have noticed that authors with over ten years of experience are still willing to learn and try out new things. They don’t believe that they know so much that they don’t need to learn anything now.
It is good to work with this mind-set. Get into the habit of learning something especially when you are not in a very creative mood.
10 Take a break when things become too overwhelming
Just as it is important to work hard, it is also important to take a break once in a while. Remember writing is a marathon and not a sprint. So you don’t want to burn out and crash.
There is at least one day in a week when I don’t work. This is recharging time.
When things become simply too frustrating, I take a break for one or two days. This is not giving up but simply rejuvenating time. Once I feel recharged, I go back to work.
It may also be a good idea to go on a holiday for about 10 days. Don’t see this as a missed opportunity to do more work but simply as recovery time.
It is in this way that I hope that in the long run I will reach somewhere. These habits surely do require some cultivating but that is not so difficult.
What do you think are the habits of successful authors?
What are your biggest obstacles hindering the development of those good habits?
I would like to hear your views on this subject.
Written by Prasenjeet Kumar. If you want to hear more from me, you can sign up at Publish With Prasen to get tips about writing and self-publishing. Upon sign up, you’ll receive a FREE guide: “If I could publish, without spending a dime, 3 books, in six months, so can you…”.