The Big Picture
Episode #10 of the course How to begin (and maintain) your career as a writer by John Robin
Welcome to our last day. I want to close by focusing on the bigger picture of your career and how you can learn continually as you go.
I’ve worked with many romance authors who have high turnaround with their books and have a chance to improve with every book. One trait I’ve seen in those who do well: they learn from their readers and approach every book like a new beginning.
You already know how to learn from your readers through reviews, interaction, and other comments. You can also learn from the process of publishing, producing, writing, and promotion every time.
Don’t obsess over one particular book having to be perfect. Instead, obsess over the desire to always be improving. Let that first book be a milestone of this process, then keep going and let your subsequent books be subsequent milestones. As you look ahead to your next publication, don’t see it as your seventh or eighth (or twentieth). See it as your first, where you’ve had a chance to learn about how to make this one awesome based on what you’ve learned from publishing previous books.
To quote Thomas Edison, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
And continue developing the relationships you started when you asked for help with your first book. As I mentioned earlier in the course, you should be approaching other authors, offering to support their work, and asking them to return the favor. But this doesn’t just apply to one book.
Think of how you can foster community among those authors you collaborate with. Did you invite an author to be a guest on your blog then you were a guest on their blog leading up to the launch of your book? Consider dropping them an email from time to time to ask how their book is going. Keep your channels of communication open. When the time comes to ask for help on your second book, you won’t seem like you only reach out to them when you want something.
One reason blogging is so useful for writers is because you always need to come up with new content. So for that author you swapped guest invites with, you might invite them back at a later time. Or better yet, what about developing a series?
I am an epic fantasy writer, and in the past I ran a blog series called World-Builders that was so popular it came back in three incarnations. In this series, I had the chance to let other fantasy authors share about how they approach world-building. During this time, I connected with many authors and to this day am in touch with many of them.
The best part about this, though, is the collaboration that takes shape as a byproduct. Openly sharing through emails with other authors creates points of opportunity. For example, a fellow fantasy writer was telling me about her struggles with a newsletter and her plans with it, and I offered some perspectives that not only helped her, but led us to plan how we might help each other with our upcoming book releases.
Wrapping It All Up
Over the last ten days, I’ve shown you the steps involved in beginning and maintaining your writing career. If there’s any one point that should stand out it’s this: adaptation, collaboration, and managing expectations are key to success. Book sales and instant success are great to dream about, but you’re better off investing your time in things you can control, like how to improve your writing even more, how to connect with readers, and how to make each publication better than the first.
Reinvent yourself continually, with the aim of improving results based on what you find works and abandoning what’s not working. Learn from others. Learn from great books on book marketing (like the ones I’ve recommended each day, which are some of my favorites). Collaborate. Overall, have fun and don’t give up.
Good luck in the path ahead!
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