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7 Secrets to Building a Successful Writing Business

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Just yesterday, RootSky Books, our book publishing company, turned 12. It’s been through many changes since those early days where my only aim was to self-publish my own books and get my words out to the world. And through those changes, I’ve learned a lot. A lot that can help you as you grow your writing business.

First, a bit of the history.

I accomplished my first goal of self-publishing my own books and as a result, landed a book deal. I self-published my first two novels, As If Nothing Happened and Sacrifice the One before landing the book deal. As If Nothing Happened came in 2002 and Sacrifice the One two years later. The agent came in 2005 and the book deal in 2006, I believe. (Memory gets a little hazy on the details.) Self-published books? Check. Agent? Check. Book deal? Check.

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7 Productivity Tips for Writers Who Are Stuck

Producing a finished product is a struggle for many writers. They have lots of ideas, but not much to show for all the time they sit, think, and write.

As someone who has ghostwritten or authored more than 30 books and written more than 1,000 articles, I know how important it is to be productive. It’s not enough to have a good idea. After all, ideas aren’t the problem. You need a way to get over the inertia and uncertainty.

Whether you are looking to successfully complete your own writing project or one for clients, here are some productivity tips to get you there:

Realize this is work

Despite your romanticized ideas about writing, know that this is work. And that means you’ll have to put in time doing it. It won’t magically flow from your fingertips. You’ll have to make the time for it to happen and put in the effort. I’ve seen people become discouraged and even give up on their writing because it doesn’t come to them as effortlessly as they’d like. Whatever gave them the idea that writing wasn’t really work? You’ll have to get over your fantasies about writing if you want to make it an actual reality in your life.

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Ready to Get Away From Low-Paying Writing Assignments?

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The reality is that the reality is never the fantasy.

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. I dreamed that I would write in a rickety, old frame house and do my best to put peanut butter and tuna on the table for two kids. I’d bang out great pieces on my typewriter — yes, typewriter, because this was my ’80s fantasy. Somehow in that fantasy I was a struggling, single mom, happy in her writing, even as the personal life was unremarkable. Not sure why I automatically envisioned my writerly self as a single mom — did not even the teenage me see the value of a husband? The only conclusion I can come up with on that part is that not many dads were around, which is weird because I had a dad in the home, although he was rather emotionally unavailable.

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Show Yourself Some Love and Renew Your Desire for Your Career

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The funny thing about connecting online is that we think everyone else has it figured out.

And so that idea dampens our own enthusiasm for what we are doing. Kind of bums us out. Makes us scared to move forward. Messes with our heads.

But guess what: It’s an illusion. Nobody’s life is as perfect as you imagine it to be. Once you realize that, it frees you up to work through your muddled, confused, incomplete present to get to a better future. Your brilliant writing life.

Whether you are struggling to start your writing career or you’re deep in the midst of it, know that your own writing career can be amazing, successful, and triumphant. But only when you cut through the clutter, stop dreaming about everyone else’s career, and start focusing on your own.

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Rewrite the Story of Who You Are

time-for-action-420Unfinished novels are tucked away on his computer. His blog hasn’t seen a new post in months. Writing contest deadlines come and go.

He promises himself he will write.

He wants to.

But doesn’t.

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. I’ve gotten a flurry of emails lately from people on the Writer’s Living mailing list who feel a bit stuck. They want to write, long to be called writers, dream of selling something one day.

But they live in disappointment and frustration. It seems that everything in life is teaming up against them, to keep them from writing: The kids need attention, the day job is super demanding, the house needs a good cleaning.

It’s not those things that are keeping them from a writing career, though. It’s them.

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Why You Need to ‘Hurt in Your Talent’

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“Use what talent you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.” — Henry Van Dyke

 

Who wants to sing when Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, or Beyonce are belting out tunes? Not many of us would feel confident to stand next to them and raise our voices. But you know what? Many singers of lesser talent do perform and make a very good living. They’ve figured out something that can help you in your career: Success isn’t for only the great.

If you aspire to write, or sing, or speak, or paint, or anything else, but kind of hold back because you don’t think you’re as good as the most widely known or the undeniable greats, then get a bit of confidence. You don’t have to be great. But you go out there and work your butt off and find an audience all the same. You can produce your own best effort and find that people want to hear from you, too. And in the process, you may just become great.

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Write the Vision and Make It Plain

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I absolutely believe in the power we have to create our own lives. Now, I’m not going to go into some weird explanation about manifestation and explaining that all we have to do is think something to make it reality. Although I do believe our thoughts create reality. Instead, I will  do something way simpler: Let you know that writing down what you want actually helps make it happen.

I read Henrietta Anne Klauser’s book, Write It Down, Make It Happen years ago and it reinforced my ideas about the power of writing things down. In her fantastic book, Klauser shows how the act of writing down our goals and other things we want takes them from some fanciful place and turns them into reality. Even if you don’t exactly know how you are going to accomplish the thing, writing it down has magic. And if you are of a spiritual nature, even the Good Book says this is smart, as Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Write the vision, and make it plain.”

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What a Tennis Match Can Teach You About Being a Successful Writer

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My husband and I went to play tennis recently after weeks of being away from the court. If we get a few consistent days of play in, I can do pretty OK. But if there is a gap, it’s a tough road. This past time when we returned to the court after a gap, it was no different. I was losing. Down 2-4, I could almost see the future. Just two more games, and I’d lose. As usual.

But then something happened. I decided I was not going to lose. I was going to win. Sure, my opponent had more skill. And he had technique. He could talk about what to do to make a certain shot. Me? I could play, but I couldn’t conduct a clinic on shot selection or anything.

But what I could do was dig deep. My mental strength would have to compensate for my physical limitations. That, and the fact that he was nursing an old injury — the reason for our hiatus from the court. So I decided to make it all work for me.

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13 Nifty Moves for Writers Who Want to Succeed in 2013

It might be a little hard to see past the singing, partying, gifting, and celebrating of the holiday season. But see past it, you must. If you’re a writer who wants to be successful in the coming year, it’s time to do a wee bit o’ planning to help make next year start off a bit more smoothly.

Here are 13 nifty moves for writers who want to succeed in 2013.

1. Get something completed.

You’re not a writer unless you write. Forget the writing forums where you spend your time discussing the nuances of a writing career or railing against the popular misuse of “a myriad of.” Forget the writing groups where you forever meet and critique other writers’ work. Forget even the creative writing classes where you always seem to be in a constant state of revision. Forget all those things that seem to interrupt your flow. Just. Get. Something. Done. Make that a priority in 2013. Maybe you have five unfinished manuscripts on your hard drive. Maybe your blog dashboard is littered with post ideas that haven’t quite been fleshed out. Maybe the notebook next to your bed has a half dozen not-quite-there poems. Whatever it is, just complete something.

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