Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Writer's Digest Author Riffs on Author Attitude

I met Nina Amir at Book Expo America. She came by my signing podium at the USA Best Books booth to buy a book, get it signed, and chat a bit. I'm telling you this because she is a good one to listen to. She didn't let our immediate connection stop there but continued to network and you'll see her advice on tenacity (in her case, tenacity mixed with charm!) below.  Now she has a second book, The Author Training Manual, coming out--another indication of her tenacity.  Yay, Nina!

The Four Elements of Author Attitude


Adapted from The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively (Writers Digest Books)

The most successful people in the world will tell you that, more than anything else, their attitude helped them achieve their goals. If you want to succeed as an author, you need more than a good idea and writing skill. You need an Author Attitude.

Author Attitude consists of four primary characteristics:

W-Willingness

O-    Optimism

O-     Objectivity

T--     Tenacity.

 

I have arranged the four characteristics of Author Attitude to create an acronym to help you remember them. It spells a word that recently has come into common culture: WOOT!

 

Let’s look at each characteristic.

 

Willingness: To become a successful author you need a general willingness to change and grow. Your old attitudes, actions, behaviors, thoughts, decisions, beliefs, and habits have only gotten you this far. They helped you achieve your current results. If you want a new level of success as a writer, something has to change. For that to happen, first and foremost, you need to be willing to change. Every one of the following characteristics require that you have some degree of willingness to explore, do, learn, evaluate, try something that may be new or different, or do something you know how to do already but in a different way.

 

Additionally, you must be willing to change your book idea. The actual story, characters, subject, angle, theme, purpose, audience, or any number of other aspects of your project might need to be altered to make it viable in the marketplace. This may be difficult to swallow at first, but successful authorship relies on your ability to evaluate the marketability of your idea from every angle possible and to make the tough calls. Only when you have discovered that you have created a salable idea can you turn to writing the book. When you have completed the manuscript, you must be willing to receive feedback on how your writing and manuscript can be improved to make it successful and to make those changes.

 

Optimism: Whether you call it faith, positive thinking, reverse pessimism, Positive Psychology, or learned optimism, to become a successful author you must be willing to see everything that happens to you as pushing you closer to your goal of successful authorship. This means a rejection from an agent presents an opportunity to improve your query letter or your book proposal. A negative review of your manuscript by a book doctor at a conference presents a chance to rethink your plot or your content—or even to hone your craft. A session with a proposal consultant who tells you your platform section needs strengthening offers the opportunity to rethink your pre-promotion activity level.

 

Objectivity: To become a successful author you need to see yourself and your work objectively, from a different perspective than your own. Specifically, you need to see through the lens used by publishing professionals, such as literary agents and acquisitions editors. Both view your book idea not only as a creative project but also as a business proposition. They view you as a potential business partner. Even if you don’t plan on seeking a traditional publisher for your book, you must learn to stand back and evaluate yourself and your work objectively from a publishing business perspective. Doing so becomes even more important if you plan to independently publish since you become the publisher of your own work.

 

The publishing industry is the book production and selling business; if you want to become an author you must be willing to make this your business as well. You have to be willing to craft your work with an eye to the industry’s needs and standards, which are more often than not focused primarily on marketability and sales.

 

You also must distance yourself from your idea. You must detach from it so you are willing to receive, hear, and act upon criticism—and so you can learn to evaluate your idea and offer constructive criticism of your own. And you must make the necessary changes without cringing as if you are cutting off fingers and toes. You must do this with excitement because you know you are making the end product more salable. In other words, you must act in your book’s best interest—even when it feels hard.

 

Ultimately, you must see your project from the perspective of the consumer, as well. Only when you do this can you pinpoint why they might pick up your book, carry it to the register and purchase it, and then tell their friends they must read it, too. That’s when you and your book become successful.

 

Tenacity: To become an author, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes for however long it takes to reach your goal. Determination, persistence, and perseverance carry you though to successful authorship, whether you are rewriting your manuscript, building author platform, submitting to the one hundredth agent, contacting the one thousandth reviewer, or writing the fiftieth blog post or press release about your book. You must have passion for your project and feel a sense of purpose. Every day you must show up eager to move forward, even if it is only by one small step or in spite of the challenges that have presented themselves.

 

You must love what you do. You must be in love with writing, being an author (or the prospect of becoming one), and your book. For you, authorship must not be about making money or selling books; writing books or this particular book must feel like a passion, a calling, a vocation, or a soul sole purpose. This will keep you doing what must be done to succeed every day.

 

Despite this focus on Author Attitude, the need for a great idea and outstanding writing remain a factor in the success of any book. These will take you far, especially if you write fiction. However, in all cases, to go the distance and become a successful author you need the elements included in an Author Attitude—Woot!

 

About the Author

Nina Amir, author of the bestselling How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time (Writers Digest Books) and The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively (Writers Digest Books), transforms writers into inspired, successful authors, authorpreneurs and blogpreneurs. Known as the Inspiration to Creation Coach, she moves her clients from ideas to finished books as well as to careers as authors by helping them combine their passion and purpose so they create products that positively and meaningfully impact the world. A sought-after author, book, blog-to-book, and results coach, some of Nina’s clients have sold 300,000+ copies of their books, landed deals with major publishing houses and created thriving businesses around their books. She writes four blogs, including Write Nonfiction Now and How to Blog a Book, self-published 12 books and founded National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge.

 
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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