Friday, February 1, 2008

Being ready for success OR failure

Things are changing in publishing

There are still some things that have remained constant but observers will note that there are many things that are new and signal a major shift that could be on the horizon.

There are devices like Kindle by Amazon. While not mainstream yet...I've heard a good number of benefits to this product and I think that with some improvements it could become for books what the ipod has been for music.

There has also been the increase in E-books. While these are still not anywhere near the norm [nor do I expect them to be for QUITE some time] these have become a great way for individuals to spread information. I also know people who have seen substantial financial success using E-books or online downloads to supplement their career.

But how can a writer of fiction or non-fiction really use these? And will these hurt their career?

There is SOME debate to these questions. For me, I use the E-books feature and digital downloads for my WritingCareerCoach system. Previously I had done this all manually. When each new student would apply I'd be notified via paypal and I would send them the file attached in an email.

When my business really started to take off I found myself bogged down.

Let this be a lesson for you, always plan for success AND failure in your writing business.

Here is what I mean. You must look for ways to build your business and have a system in place if you succeed beyond your wildest expectation. I hadn't done that because everything had to be done BY ME.

BUT you also need to plan to fail. That means don't spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a system. Don't sign up to spend $400/week or month on employees, designers, software, etc RIGHT AWAY. In the beginning expect you'll have to do a little more than you'd expect.

So, for your writing you might have to be your OWN Virtual Assistant to manage all the emails, blogs, and correspondence. That is why my day starts before 9am and end around 2am. I am running, writing, teaching, prepping, planning, wife-ing, mommy-ing ALL DAY. That is 6 days a week. On Sundays I TRY not to spend more than a couple of hours on work [but I DO have to catch up on housework on that day usually].

However, I have a plan in place. When I reach a certain number of apprentices I will start my Mentorship website....check.

When I have a certain number of subscribers to my website I'll hire an assistant...[plan to check that this month]

When I have a certain amount of business income I can afford to do phase two of the program...

See, if I were to run out and try to do this all at once I'd over commit myself and stress. Don't try to go from not writing to writing 6 hours a day, 6 days a week. Don't expect to have 100 subscribers to your blog on day two [unless you already have a large sphere of influence or credibility in your industry]. Don't expect ONE book give away contest to bring in all the people you had ever HOPED to reach.

You WILL be disappointed.

Instead, set up long term goals and benchmarks. Know what you want to do next because sometimes things happen faster than you expect. When I suddenly started to see my mentorship numbers going up I already knew what I was going to do when I reached the threshold of double. I had expected it to happen by March but it happened the last week of January.

What would you do if suddenly you got a request for a full manuscript? What if you got a multi-book deal? Do you have the time management skills necessary to follow through?

What if you got 5 rejections in a row? Do you have a plan for your next project?

By planning for success or failure [which is really about LEARNING how to do it for next time] you can capitalize on every opportunity that presents itself to you.


As I told you on Wednesday, things really start to speed up for me around this time. I finally had the opportunity to go to a writer's conference. I had been writing for years, been published in national magazines, and semi-finaled in a completed novel contest.

When I arrived at conference I was ready to finally sell my first book. I had learned from many writers, from lessons, and from online communities. I had an agent send me a lovely rejection letter that said "You're ALMOST there. Keep at it."

I won't go through all I learned at conference that year, I will discuss that over the next few months through my blog, but something that changed my writing business happened while I was there.

First, backtrack to when my husband had cancer. Since he was a paramedic, and on VERY strong chemo, he was completely unable to work for almost 6 full months. Whenever he wasn't sick from the treatment he would spend time reading books on business and marketing. He devoured every book he could get his hands on . Sometimes he'd be reading 2 or 3 books simultaneously. Then he'd suggest I read them. I read as many as I could but I was super busy keeping the house running. So in the evenings after the kids went to bed Chris would sit down and summarize what he'd learned from the day's reading.

So, fast forward to conference. Chris was only a 10 weeks cancer free when I attended my first Writer's Conference. As I listened to hundreds of writers, and dozens of editors and agents, I started to see a real need for a business approach to writing.

And then all I'd learned crashed with what I saw of writers, the needs of publishing houses, and the needs of agents.

Before I left conference I'd sketched out the entire program of what is now known as the Writing Career Coach. A plan to help writers sell themselves better and a way for editors and agents to find people who were not only strong on craft but able to market their published books effectively.

But more on that next week.


Suzanne Lieurance said...


One thing I tell writers in my coaching program is that if they want to make a LOT of money from their writing - and not just a LITTLE money - they need to have certain systems in place.

Good luck with your writing - and with your systems!

Suzanne Lieurance
The Working Writer's Coach

Maggie said...

Happy birthday Tiff!

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter said...

Thanks Maggie!!! It was AWESOME. The kids wrote me a song and performed it. It was so cute.