Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Write Like a 12-year-old

Okay, I don’t actually mean that aspiring authors should use the penmanship or even the intellect of a pre-teen when crafting their books. After all, your book is your brand, and the last thing you want to be branded as is a child. What I’m suggesting is that you apply the reckless abandon and carefree spirit that a young adult would use when writing about her summer vacation. 
Remember when you were a kid and had a writing assignment? You approached a book report much differently than you did an assignment to describe your favorite food, musical group or the guy you had a crush on. You would approach one assignment with dread and grief, yet you would excitedly pen pages about the other with little or no effort at all. The difference: your passion, knowledge and commitment about the subject matter. When you’re connected to what you’re writing about, when you’re driven by the subject matter and the desire to share what you know, the words flow and you enjoy telling the story. On the other hand, when you see a subject as something less than appealing, or when you lack confidence in your ability, skill or gift, writing can become a fate worse than death.
Case in point. Recently, a friend shared with me the writings of her 12-year-old daughter. During a recent week-long snow storm that shut down the entire city, the “tween” shut herself away in her room for hours on end and eventually emerged with three short stories, diary entries of a fictitious character and her middle school exploits. The writing was fresh, honest, entertaining and even sassy. There was a cadence to the voice of the stories that kept me turning the pages to find out what comical predicament this familiar outcast teen would experience next. It was hilarious and I can’t wait for volume four to emerge from this budding author.
Conversely, I recently spoke with an experienced entrepreneur who, like many, is building her business and seeking new clients. When posed with the question of when she would be ready to share her immense knowledge with others in the form of a book, she replied, “I think I’ll give it about five years.” Five years? Really? How many potential clients will overlook her in the next five years because all she has is a website and a business card? How many business opportunities will she miss out on because she hasn’t branded herself as an expert and crafted a book that demonstrates her grasp of industry concepts, her years of experience and her unique systems and processes? There’s no way to tell. 
My point is, you must to push aside the voices of doubt and dread when you consider writing your book. You know what you know, whether it is your personal life story, the knowledge you’ve gained throughout your career or your vision of a perfect world. Find your passion for what you know and capture it in words. Write like the 12-year-old whose familiarity with teenage life is her reality. She knows the language, the behavior, what’s in and what’s out. It’s her passion. What’s yours? Write it!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stop Waiting on the Sidelines: Build Your Reputation ... as an Author

Who are you, what do you know and why should I care? That’s what people are asking themselves when they meet you at networking gatherings, meetings and events. Oh sure, you present the perfect package on the outside -- professional dress, warm smile, fancy business card, firm handshake. But what’s your message? What’s your brand? What’s your story? 
What you know is greater than the college you attended, the degree you earned, your job title or even how long you’ve been in business. Your effectiveness as a professional  is established by your ability to clearly communicate and demonstrate your know-how. If you’re waiting for people to figure it out, you’ll be waiting a long time. People aren’t interested in figuring you out; they want you to show what you know. 

As an author, you have an immediate calling card. Much more powerful than a simple business card, your book is an open door to conversation about who you are, what you know and how that affects the person or people you’re talking to. Despite the fact that there are millions of books on the shelves and in cyberspace, people remain fascinated by authors. They’re the ones who were able to do what so many others wish to do -- write a book. When you tell someone whom you’ve just met that you are an author, they are immediately interested in you. They suddenly view you as an expert, and they believe that you are:
  • A gifted writer
  • Someone able to organize her thoughts
  • Good at explaining concepts
  • Able to persuade others
  • Able to instruct others 
  • In high demand 
  • Important
  • Valuable
  • Interesting

When you are able to explain the concepts, experiences and lessons in your book in a way that allows others to glean some knowledge, that further upsells your assets. Now, your audience can see how your knowledge benefits them and they’re much more likely to buy your book, hire you, pay you more, invite you to speak to their group and tell others about you.

Waiting on the sidelines for someone to notice your fabulous-ness, your uniquness, your juicy-ness is simply a waste of time. Writing your book is a sure-fire way to get the ball rolling towards greater success in your career. So, what are you waiting for?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

8 Things to Do in a Snow Storm (the writer's version)

This is day two of the great 2011 Atlanta Snow-in. Who knew a little snow could cause so much trouble? As a California transplant to the south, I expected mild winters -- maybe some low temps, a few snow flurries, some freezing rain from time to time. Well, this week has been all of that and more. But honestly, this isn’t so bad ... that is, if you’re inside a warm place with plenty to eat and something to do. That’s where it seems some people have lost the benefit of these few snow days. Can you say, “Cabin fever?” 
Aspiring writers, I call on you to take this time and turn it into an opportunity to make progress on your book project. If you’re “stuck” inside, unable to safely make it to your 9-to-5, or your kids' school or your errands, here are 8 things you could be doing to make progress on your book 
1. Complete your outline
2. Continue journaling
3. Craft a scene
4. Develop some dialog
5. Sketch out a few possible endings to your book

Use this time to develop your book. Remember the 90,000 words in 90 days challenge. Here’s your chance to catch up on those days when you weren’t able to write, or even to get ahead on you word count. 

For already published authors:
6. Research organizations that you could speak to
7. Do an online search for radio shows on which you could be a guest
8. Contact booksellers to schedule a book signing

Get a plan going to market yourself as an author, sell your book and upsell your expertise. 

This is no time to sit on your ass-ets! Let’s get going! Who knows how long this wintery weather could last. Before you know it, you could have your book done and have a full schedule of speaking engagements to look forward to. 
Be diligent and focus on making progress. I want you to finish what you started and I’m here to help. Just holler. I'll be tap, tap, tapping away on my own book project!
All the best to you.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

You ARE a Writer

One of the excuses people often use for not writing their book is, "I'm not a writer." Okay, I'm here to tell you that that's a lame excuse. Of course you're a writer. We're all writers these days. You might not be the next Virginia Woolf or Alice Walker or Stephen King, but you ARE a writer! How do I know? Because you're on the Internet. You have email. You probably do more online than read my blog or my newsletter. You most likely write things, like emails to friends, family and colleagues. You write letters to clients and prospects. You write notes to your children's teachers. You write articles for your homeowners association's newsletter. You probably have a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account. You get the picture? You're a writer! Now, stop using that excuse.

What we want to do is turn you into an author. You are an aspiring author with a book inside just clawing to come out. Unfortunately, you've allowed the excuse that you're not a writer to come between your desire to have a book and seeing your dream fulfilled. You really need to get over that. Seriously!

Here are 7 tips to get you in the mindset of a writer:

  1. Make a commitment to yourself that you will write your book in 2011. Write down that commitment on a piece of paper and post it in a conspicuous place so you can see it everyday.
  2. Pull out all of those notebooks, sticky notes and ideas. Open up that document on your computer that you started three years ago and re-read what you wrote back then.
  3. Make time to write EVERYDAY. That's right ... everyday. Decide to write a certain number of words, pages or hours per day and do everything you can to stick to it.
  4. Write as if no one will read it except you. This way, you'll get over trying to make your writing sound so literary. This is how you will develop your own voice. Just write.
  5. Think about your book all the time. Yes, all the time. How can you describe a particular scene? How will you explain a certain concept? Think about it, but don't over-think it. When you get an idea, write it down.
  6. Speaking of that, keep a small spiral-bound note pad with you at all times so you can jot down those random thoughts; trust me, they'll come in handy.
  7. Finally, give yourself a break. Becoming an author is a process, a journey. It should be enjoyable, so let it flow.
How cool will it be when this time next year your book is published? Yeah, think about THAT!