How To Be a More Productive and Successful Author

by Victoria Greene, @vickyecommerce

You’ve made up your mind; the ideas are there and so is the drive, but just how difficult is it to become a successful author? After all, so many people set their hearts on writing a book, yet only a fraction of those who begin ever make it to the end. The problem is, writing is all too easily put aside for other things, delayed one more day, or excused due to writer’s block.

Maintaining your productivity levels after an initial burst of enthusiasm is often the biggest challenge. Once your momentum declines, and progress begins to slow, it can be extremely discouraging. Meanwhile, productivity mantras urging you to write every day can quickly begin to feel more like criticisms than encouragement.

Yet there will be other days when writing feels like second nature, and the words will flow readily onto the page. So what can you do to ensure you have more of those days than the other kind? Fortunately, this is easier than it sounds. By identifying the things that are slowing you down, and developing positive working habits, you can dramatically increase your productive potential.

Planning the Path To Success

As with every creative pursuit, if you wish to succeed as an author, you need to approach your work with the same commitment and conviction as you would any other long-term goal. Plan ahead, know your limits, and be prepared for the days when it simply isn’t fun.

Set clear goals for each month, and break those down into manageable weekly targets. This means you always know what you’re working towards, and you can quickly identify where your sticking points are. If there is one project that always holds you back, it may be time to reevaluate how you approach it.

  • Decide how much time you can spare for writing each week, and schedule accordingly
  • Set daily priorities and aim to get the most important tasks out of the way first
  • Schedule time for breaks. Insufficient rest will eventually wear you down, which will ultimately decrease the quality of your writing
  • Reward yourself. Productivity is hugely influenced by your state of mind, so you can reinforce good habits by rewarding yourself for successfully reaching your goals
  • Take some time away from your workspace. When you take breaks, try to leave your work area, even if you just go into the next room
  • Where possible, get some fresh air and exercise. Writing is a sedentary pursuit and it is too easy to find yourself stuck indoors for days at a time, barely leaving your desk

Know What You Want

To give yourself the best shot at becoming a successful author, you need to have a clear picture of what you hope to achieve and why. Think about what you are willing to give up in order to be able to give your writing the time and commitment necessary.

To maximize your productivity, you will need to identify the things that distract you or slow you down. This may mean using web-blocking apps such as Freedom or SelfControl, or even turning off the internet altogether.

Identifying bad habits is also part of this process. Are you the sort of person who can spend an hour worrying about a single sentence? Learn to recognize that your writing does not need to be perfect on the first runthrough. Set yourself a maximum time for dwelling on an individual issue, and when that time is up, you need to leave it and continue writing. You can return to it with a fresh mind at a later date.

Failure Is Part of the Process

Not every day will go according to plan, not every manuscript will be perfect, and not every idea will turn out to be as great as it first seemed. These apparent failures can often be demoralizing, yet they are a natural part of your development as an author.

For every finished work, think how many drafts have been discarded, and for every 1,000 words you have written, how many have you deleted along the way? Yet it is far easier to perceive these alterations as contributing to the creative process.

That is not to suggest you should dismiss your failures, any more than you would ignore a typographical error. The trick is to recognize when things aren’t working, and figure out how to fix them.

Promoting Your Work

Of course, completing a written work is not the end of the journey. To be able to sell your work and raise your profile as an author, you need to ensure that people can find you. Websites such as Goodreads enable you to host Q&A sessions, and even offer physical or digital copies of your book in their giveaways, which can be a great way to get some early publicity. Meanwhile, in addition to turnkey self-publishing platforms like Amazon’s Kindle, you could consider selling your work directly through your own website.

Ecommerce CMS platforms such as Shopify can facilitate this process by handling many of the time-consuming aspects of creating a functional and coherent ecommerce website. This then frees you up to focus your marketing efforts elsewhere, and, of course, to begin working on your next project.

Here’s how to market your book from the inside out.

Be Your Own Boss

Whether you are just starting out, or a developing author looking for ways to refine your approach, the most important thing to remember is to do what works for you. Like every endeavor, writing takes time, energy, and dedication, so you need to make sure that you plan accordingly.

Everyone works differently, and only you can determine how often and how much you are prepared to write. Even so, while it may take some trial and error to find your groove, if you keep these techniques in mind along the way, you will arrive fully equipped to be the focused, prolific, and successful author you already knew you could become.


Victoria Greene is a brand marketing consultant and freelance writer. She has her own blog at VictoriaEcommerce, as well as writing for other websites. Victoria is a big advocate of maintaining good writerly habits and using tech to help stay productive.

Writing Through Success

by Kara Isaac, @KaraIsaac

If you’d told me a few years ago what the title of this post would be I would have laughed. Writing through success? Sign me up for that to be a problem! Especially when I had practically earned degrees in writing through rejection and writing through disappointment!

In 2016 my debut novel, Close To You, and my sophomore novel, Can’t Help Falling, released six months apart. As I sit here typing they have clocked up between theman RWA RITA Award double final, Grace Award final, finalists in the Christian Retailing Best Awards and been shortlisted for two Inspy Awards.
Any one of these are the things that author dreams are made of. The truth isonce the exhilaration and excitement and sheer this can’t actually be happening to me feelings wore off, a gnawing pit in my stomach took their place. At the time these all happened, I was also neck deep in difficult rewrites of my next novel, Then There Was You, which released June 22.

These kinds of thoughts invaded as I sat in front of my laptop, riddled with anxiety and self doubt:

There is no way I can live up to this.

This story is going to be such a disappointment to my readers.

I’m not a good writer. I just had an amazing editor on those two books who made me look like one.

They only stood out because of the J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis components were something different.

I should quit while I’m ahead before everyone knows that I only had two good books in me.

As each final landed, as I fielded more questions about when my next book would be out, I came to dread working on Josh and Paige’s story. Sitting in front of my laptop feeling the weight of all these contests and the pressure to make this book just as good, if not better, that those ones.

I only started making progress once I learned that my job was to write their story to the best of my ability and not care about anything else. Not worry about my (amazing!) readers who tell me how much they’re looking forward to another book. Not worry about whether or not their story will meet the same success in contests as the other two have. Not worry about trying to reimagine and replicate whatever the mysterious components are that have earned the others favor from judges. To just do the best job that I could with their story with the time, resources and creativity that God had given me.

As I wrestled my way through the rewrites, these are the things that I kept reminding myself:

A Great Book is Subjective

Most readers can agree on what makes a bad book. Rambling prose, plots that meander, characters who aren’t engaging, scenes that don’t move a story forward, big dumps of unnecessary backstory, a style of writing that causes confusion rather than interest.

A great book meets a reader at a particular time in their lives. It may be down to a specific day or just a particular season they are walking through. A book that may just be a fun read one week may resonate deeply the next. As a reader, I have struggled to finish a book that many others have raved about and been completely gripped by others that friends thought was just so-so.

When a reader picks up their book and how they emotionally engage with it is completely out of an author’s control.

Judging is Subjective
A week after I got my book contract for Close To You, I also received my scores from an unpublished writers’ contest. One judge loved it but the other two HATED it and gave scores in the 30s. One even commented that it was evident that I was a beginning writer and s/he recommended that I learn more about the craft of writing before entering another contest.

The truth is that finaling in a contest, while one measure of success it is just that. ONE measure. Having all my first round RITA judges score Close To You well doesn’t mean it is better than any of the other amazing books published last year in its genre. It simply means that it had the good fortune of being in the judging boxes of five judges who read it at a particular point in time and it hit their sweet spot. It could have easily been the opposite.

Case in point: there is a website that reviews all RITA finalist books each year. That reviewer awarded Close To You a C-.

Readers Don’t Care About Awards, They Care About Story
While they are a huge honor, the truth is that most readers have never heard of the RITA, or the Carol, or the Christy, or the Inspys, or the Readers’ Choice Awards, let alone know what they are.

I got one shot at writing Josh and Paige’s story to be the best that I could. I love this story. I love these characters. I love their trials and challenges and imperfections and oh, I love their romance! For some readers it may be their favorite one yet, for others it might not replicate the magic that they found with Jackson and Allie or Peter and Emelia. That’s okay, too.

TWEETABLES
Writing Through Success by Kara Isaac (Click to Tweet)

My job is to write to the best of my ability and not care about anything else~ Kara Isaac (Click to Tweet)

Readers Don’t Care About Awards, They Care About Story ~Kara Isaac (Click to Tweet)


Then There Was You

Paige McAllister needs to do something drastic. Her boyfriend can’t even commit to living in the same country, her promised promotion is dead on arrival and the simultaneous loss of her brother and her dream of being a concert violinist has kept her playing life safe and predictable for six years. Things need to change. A moment of temporary insanity finds her leaving her life in Chicago to move to Sydney, Australia. There she finds herself, against many of her convictions, as a logistics planner for one of Australia’s biggest churches, and on a collision course with her boss’s son.

Josh Tyler fronts a top-selling worship band and is in demand all over the world. But, in the past, his failed romantic relationships almost destroyed both his reputation and his family. He’s determined to never risk it happening again. The last thing he needs is some American girl tipping his ordered life upside down. Especially one who despises everything he’s ever worked for and manages to push every button he has.

When Josh and Paige are thrown together to organize his band’s next tour, the sparks fly. But can they find a way to bridge the differences that pull them apart? Or will they choose the safety and security of what they know over taking a chance on something that will require them to risk everything?

Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She is the author of Close to You, a RITA Award Double Finalist, and Can’t Help Falling, an RT Review Top Pick. Her latest book Then There Was You released on June 22. When she’s not chasing three adorable but spirited little people, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac – Author and Twitter @KaraIsaac

The Dirty Little Success Secret

by Linore Rose Burkard

When I give writing workshops I have the privilege of meeting writers at all talent levels, some published, but many still learning the ropes. Some have expressed a feeling of hopelessness. It seems to them no matter what they do, publication is not within reach. Successful authors, they think, must have a secret or two unknown to them. Why else aren’t they published by now?

They want to know the dirty, little secret. 

I like to tell them, first of all, that we are all still learning the ropes. 

Is there a secret to learning the ropes?

Even published authors, those who have navigated the climb to publication with one house, may have to take a new and different course to get their next book published. There are exceptions for some popular authors, but for most of us, like stocks, past success is no guarantee of future earnings. 

But is there a dirty little secret to success?

 
Actually, yes!
In fact, there are two of them. Here are the two filthy secrets that successful authors are intimately familiar with: Perseverance and work.

No one likes these words, because they imply strain, patience, and fatigue. Persevering in the face of difficulty is hard. Work, by its very nature, takes energy.

But these “secrets” are actually good news for writers, because while success is sometimes being in the right place at the right time, or comes as a result of who you know, most often it is a result of these two things that are completely within our grasp. Anyone can exercise perseverance. Anyone can do hard work.    

Perseverance can get you in the right place at the right time, and hard work will help you meet the people you need to know. The reverse is also true: Hard work can get you in the right place at the right time, and perseverance will help you meet the people you need to know. 

So, the truth is there is no secret at all.  

As Colin Powell said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” 

About That

It is easier to feel that life is unfair and that you are wasting your time writing and editing than it is to prepare sufficiently (for publication), do the work necessary, and learn from failure. 
But this is precisely what writers must do. 

Work hard–and keep working hard.
Prepare (learn, attend conferences, read books on the craft) and keep preparing. 

Take failure and learn from it, that is, every rejection, every critique. (Some criticism will not be accurate. Most will have at least a grain of truth. Learn to find that grain–it can be very, very helpful.)  

Finally

Only the Lord knows the right time, the right publisher, and the right agent for each of us. If we receive a rejection, we can rest assured it wasn’t the right place, time, or person for our work. Every closed door is a nudge in a new direction, towards the one that with perseverance and work, will “magically” open. 

Samuel Johnson said, “Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.” 

Do you have a great work in mind? 
Press on.
Persevere.
Publishing success will come in His time and in His way. 

In the meantime, remember that we write:

  • not because we may we published
  • not to impress an agent or editor
  • not to show family or friends that we can

but to serve the Lord, to steward the resources of creativity and imagination that He has entrusted to our care. When we remember it is GOD we serve, we can grasp that we are always a success, so long as we are faithful to Him. 

Keep Writing!

Linore 

Linore Rose Burkard is
best known for historical regency novels with Harvest House Publishers,
including Before the Season Ends, the award-winning The House in Grosvenor Square, and, The Country House Courtship. As a writer noted for
meticulous research as well as bringing people to life on the page, Linore’s
books delight fans of historical romance with “Heyeresque” humor and Austen-like
manners.  Linore teaches workshops for writers with Greater Harvest
Workshops in Ohio, is a homeschooling mother of five, and has recently finished
a YA novel. Keep up with Linore by subscribing to her free newsletter at LinoreBurkard.com

Lighting a Fire to Your Writing Career by DiAnn Mills

By – DiAnn Mills

When writers realize the embers of their careers are dying, stomping out the few remaining flames is not the answer. Instead, effective writers look for new ways to promote themselves that explode with ingenuity and creativity. 

Are the flames of your writing dying?

Is your career on the verge of smoldering? Try adding a spark to your marketing and promotion plan with these ideas.

1. Brainstorm with other writers about your brand and marketing and promotion efforts. I could write several blogs on this topic. In short, brainstorming is the best method I know to expand creativity from the writing process to branding and promotion.

2. A new professional photo. Invest in a good photographer who will not only create a great new look for media but will also snap a few candid and fun pics that can be used for social networking.

3. Update your website. Now may be the time to consider an exciting design that uses your brand as the focus. Your website is your calling card. It must reflect you, your writing, and your uniqueness.

4. Author bio. A writer uses his/her flair for words to enhance a bio that draws readers into your world. Make it personal and professional. Also develop a shorter version for those times when media has space for two or three sentences.

5. If you’re social media networking includes only Facebook or Twitter, stretch yourself. Dive into the advantages of Goodreads where a writer can communicate with readers. Take the time to read all the benefits of Goodreads for writers. Pinterest is addictive, and the many uses of images in marketing and promotion are endless. Don’t limit yourself! Are podcasts in your future?

6. Use Buffer or Hootsuite to organize and simplify your social media posts. This relieves the stress of watching the clock and questioning when followers are online. Analytics provide information critical to posting and content. Other methods are available, but these are my favorites. https://bufferapp.com https://hootsuite.com.

7. Is blogging a part of your plan? A successful writer understands a blog is only as good as the subject matter and how the material is presented. Use images and make it fun.

8. Commit to reading blogs and books about marketing and promotion for writers in your genre.

9. Are you taking care of yourself physically? A writer who’s not healthy or regularly exercising can’t expect the brain and heart to engage to maximum potential.

10. Are you ensuring each book is written better than the previous one? Are writing challenges met with determination by studying the craft, deepening skills, and evaluating your own work?

11. Prayer. This should be first. Seek God’s guidance for ways to glorify Him as we seek to entertain, inspire, and encourage readers.

Perhaps one of these eleven ideas have motivated you to add fire to your writing career. Determine today to light a match to one of them. Write on!

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.