Friday, February 29, 2008

Writers are readers

I've heard it said writers are readers.

I absolutely agree with that. We need to study our craft and understand the tone, pace and structure of writing to improve as writers.

But there are so many hours in a day.

Anyone who knows me knows that I don't just burn my candle at both ends, I lay it on its side and burn it long ways. [Okay, that image worked better in my mind than on paper.]

So I've become a person obsessed with how to fit more in my day without sacrificing quality.

So here is your assignment for this next seven days. Keep track of what you're doing.

Keep tally marks of the number of emails read and emails sent.
Keep tally marks of the number of hours spent watching TV [yes, even news]
Use tally marks to figure the number of hours you're commuting.
Use tally marks to figure the number of hourse you're doing housework.
Use tally marks to figure out the number of things you're doing with those important to you.
And use tally marks to figure the number of hours your sleeping

Bottom line is keep track of everything. By using a check list [to do] and tally marks [what I did] you will begin to see a clear picture of where you're spending your time and what results you're getting from it.

What does this have to do with marketing? We will discuss this next Friday. So write your to do list for the week, review it every night before bed and adjust as necessary, and keep a sheet of paper to use tally marks for all activities.

And we'll see what we learn about ourselves and our potential.

Are you brave enough to try? See you next week.

Your coach for the journey, Tiffany Colter

Thursday, February 28, 2008

There's a face behind that number

Who are your customers and where are they?

That is the focus of most marketing plans. When you find the people you build that platform and try to keep it growing.

The key to doing that is remember there are faces behind those numbers.

When you're tempted to do a poor job on your blog or hold back places with your 'customer'.

When you're trying to decide how to market an idea, consider what you would like. What would be valuable and useful to YOU?

It is tempting sometimes to see customers as walking dollar signs who have no greater desire than to follow you around and hang on your every word. While there are certain stars who might be able to garner that response-the rest of us need to put both feet directly on the ground and think.

Every day as I sit down to blog I ask myself a question "If I were to stop at this blog, would I feel my time had been well spent?" There have been times that I completely changed the entire focus of my blog because I decided I wasn't helping all of you enough. If I would feel cheated by reading my blog, I don't post it for all of you.

So think about it, are you putting all you have in to what you're doing? Are you cranking out words to meet an article deadline or are you trying to truly inform others? Are you throwing something together just to get a recent blog posting? Are you trying to attract people only to try to separate them from their money?

I hope that when a person finds this blog that they feel they've located something valuable. I hope they feel enriched for having read it.

Do you have the same level of respect for the people you're trying to reach?

I'll see you next time. Your coach for the journey, Tiffany Colter

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Keeping things in balance

I've been reflecting over this last week on how people become successful.

I believe passion is the first ingredient in success. Passion can overcome so many other LACKS. If a person has a dream, the passion to see that dream come true will push them forward.

I think the next thing you need is a plan. You need to know where you're going and how you're going to get there. You also need to know how to measure success along the path to your goals.

Then you need the vision to see beyond your goals to the next step. This is where many people miss it. They are so focused on accomplishing this first thing that they don't see how each step fits in to the overall picture.

Living a life of vision can be hard. It keeps us hungry. Once a goal is reached we are already in the process of reaching the next one. If you feel the need to control it can become very frustrating. But by recognizing the long term rewards, and keeping passion, it is also the most rewarding way to go.

But today I want to talk a bit about balance.

After spending the last 9 weeks working longer hours and harder hours than I have since college [and I may have even been working harder now than I did in college] I stepped back this week to look at where I was.

In my mentorship: I am working with some great people and look forward to their emails and questions. I am happy with my role as a mentor.

In my fiction: This area I want to improve in. I love writing fiction but since it is SLOW money [as I've described in previous blogs] it is easy to be pushed down the priority list. I am thrilled to have 2 novels that I'm currently writing as well as 2 in outline form and one that I'm actively editing. I look forward to a time in the next few months where I am able to get back to that on a more "full time" basis [that will likely be when I'm done homeschooling for the year in May]

In my teaching: I'm really thrilled here. Not only am I teaching a large class of editors but my part time job teaching high schoolers is going VERY well. I've been specifically requested by name twice in 2008. This is extremely flattering.

I'm also teaching more than a dozen editors at the Christian Pen and have public teaching I'll be doing in March.

Tiff the person: [wife and mom] This is the area that has gone through the most growth this week. This last weekend I was working on Saturday and realized how much I really have missed my kids these last 2 months. I'm with them all the time but I'm either teaching, cooking, cleaning, coming or going. I have only had 2 or 3 days since Christmas when I've been able to sit down for a full hour with one of my kids and do something FUN. That had to change. Last night I couldn't post my blog [despite Tuesdays being my highest traffic days] because I sat down with my 4 daughters and played a board game for almost 2 hours. And I have no regrets.

So look over your business plan, then look over your life. Are you keeping things in balance? All of us have seasons where there is a great deal of work that needs to be done. Don't feel guilt over it. Recognize it as a great season of opportunity and take advantage of it. But when that season is over, bring things back in to alignment. Spend time with those who matter most.

Remember, by keeping things in balance you will not only be more productive but you'll be happier.

I'll see all of you tomorrow!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tweaking your business plan

I've encouraged you over the last few months to have a way to see how successful you are in your goal to market your writing.

I've told you to use google analytics to track the amount of traffic on websites and blogs. That way you can see trends as well as learn how people are finding you.

I've also told you to use search engines to see where you are appearing and if you're being picked up by other blogs.

Today I want to talk a little bit about what to do if you're not getting the results you'd like to get. What then?

That is a sign you need to tweak your plan.

I would never advocate jumping from one thing to the other constantly however I would suggest that you not sit with a failing idea too long. It shouldn't take more than a few weeks if you're doing something on the internet to determine if something is working or not.

I've had to make a number of adjustments throughout my time. At one point I decided each morning I'd spend two hours reading blogs and posting comments as appropriate. That way I was interacting with others and learning in the process. What I learned is that when I try to spend two hours on something like that...I won't get many blogs read. I followed links and meandered around so much that I never hit all the blogs I wanted to in a week. Therefore, I began subscribing to the blogs that interested me. Then I'm able to visit those that I don't want to miss.

I also had to stop bidding new jobs for content editing. I was extremely excited to see my reputation was starting to take off and I ran the risk of over committing myself. Then you end up breaking promises to people which is not good for you or them. As you become more successful you cannot always make every person's project your "Top Priority". Then you get nothing done [except feeling guilty].

You also need to recognize when it's time to have others work parts of your business or switch around who is helping with your business. Always be sure you have the right person helping you with the right part of the project. It may seem expensive to have someone build your website for $40+per hour but if you spend 100 hours doing it yourself [during which time you lost 15 hours of work at $15/hour] having a web designer do it for you may be MUCH smarter.

The danger in being a do-it-yourself type [like I am] is we get so obsessed with doing things ourself that we do 2nd rate work that takes 4x the time to get done.

So what part of your writing business could be passed on to someone else right now? What part of your marketing plan is outdated? Is your business being run as efficiently as it could be?

Ask yourself these questions...and tweak accordingly.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

That CRAZY blog post

For those of you who are regular readers yesterday's blog posting was a bit...uh...confusing! I'd like to apologize for the abrupt end to the blog. As I ways typing it my youngest child [who'd been fighting a high fever all day] stumbled down the steps [read, fell]. I left my computer and when I felt the fever was back with a vengeance I said "we'll talk about that tomorrow" and went to tend to my daughter.


Here is the balance of the blog. I will restate my blog from yesterday and then continue the thought.

I was asked to answer some questions for Susan Lohrer's blog yesterday. I went to the blog and looked around a bit. I was TRULY impressed. The site is clean and professional with a good mix of content and postings. If you're a writer or editor her blog if full of useful information.

Next, I went over to the blog of a friend Nora St. Laurent. Knowing Nora like I do, this blog captured her perfectly. If you are a reader her blog provides great photos of her book club ministry in addition to other information.

Then I heard from someone a week ago who said they really couldn't think what to blog about. [In fact, I've heard that a few times in these last few weeks].

I have a couple of comments. First, here are two people who are taking action in reaching their dreams. They are taking the skills they have to build an effective platform to grow their business.

For people who are not taking to blogging I have this advice...don't do it. Life is too short and there are too many different ways to grow your business and platform without blogging. Begin to research them and we'll talk tomorrow.

For those of you who do not enjoy blogging, or don't have time to do it, there are still options. Websites offer an opportunity to create a web presence. Offer an E-zine with this website. You can solicit interviews from individuals in the blogosphere who talk about topics of interest to your target market. Also offer relevant content that you write.

This will help you create a platform without the need to post daily on a blog. I subscribe to a few differnt E-zines and I learn a great deal from them. There are also blog carnivals. If you'd like to be a clearinghouse for information but don't want to be responsible for content yourself, look in to this option.

The purpose of all these methods is to provide meaningful content to your target audience which will help you gain credibility. This credibility will, in turn, build your platform.

So to summarize, here are a few options for those who don't enjoy blogging:
1. E-zines in conjunction with a website
2. A website
3. Hosting a blog carnival

I'll continue to seek out other options to help you build your writing platform to increase sales of your fiction and non-fiction.

I'd love to hear some of your ideas as well. Your coach for the journey, Tiffany Colter

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A couple are doing it

I was asked to answer some questions for Susan Lohrer's blog yesterday. I went to the blog and looked around a bit. I was TRULY impressed. The site is clean and professional with a good mix of content and postings. If you're a writer or editor her blog if full of useful information.

Next, I went over to the blog of a friend Nora St. Laurent. Knowing Nora like I do, this blog captured her perfectly. If you are a reader her blog provides great photos of her book club ministry in addition to other information.

Then I heard from someone a week ago who said they really couldn't think what to blog about. [In fact, I've heard that a few times in these last few weeks].

I have a couple of comments. First, here are two people who are taking action in reaching their dreams. They are taking the skills they have to build an effective platform to grow their business.

For people who are not taking to blogging I have this advice...don't do it. Life is too short and there are too many different ways to grow your business and platform without blogging. Begin to research them and we'll talk tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Are you credible?

In the blogosphere there are thousands of experts that share their opinions of even more topics. In this Ocean of insight how can you distinguish yourself?


You must take the time to build a reputation as a credible source of information if you're ever going to get the traffic you need to build your blog.


You also need to be consistent. There are days [like this past Friday] when I was SO overwhelmed with responsibilities that it was impossible for me to get the blog done. But I've established a reputation of consistency which helps me maintain a strong hit count despite that deviation.


I wanted to emphasize the co- there. Co means with. You need to operate with others in a spirit of cooperation, not competition. I realize we are all competing. As much as I love other writers people have a limited amount of time to read blogs [but if you'd like to listen to them to save time REMEMBER you can listen to my blog every day at]. If they read another person's blog that means mine might get skipped. That is why I need to be sure I am consistent and credible.

I also cooperate with other bloggers. When Susan Lohrer emailed me this morning with a few questions I was available. She posted a great Q and A blog today with the answers to my questions. I'd urge you to check it out.

Look at your blogging, writing, and professional life. Are you someone that people see as a clearinghouse for USEFUL information that they can use to build their business? Are you updating on a regular basis? Are you making deadline on articles? Are you producing quality work?

These are skills you need to develop as a writer. You also need to be consistently learning new marketing trends and changes in publishing. Go read through some of the archives from Jan 1, 2008 forward. Go download my free e-zine on article writing to build your writing business at and start to build your platform.

And come back and tell me about your successes big and small. Post a comment if you made a sale, started a blog, got a requets MS, sold an article or any other mini success as a writer. Let's celebrate together and learn together. That is cooperation.

There is enough competition out there to eat us alive. Come here and learn with a group of writers who are excited for each success.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Contests and Comments

Happy Monday!!

Today I waited for a blog to go up on Chip MacGregor's website before I posted my blog so I'm running a little late.

Today I want to share a little bit of information about contests for your writing and comments on your blog.

As I've told you before, it is important to track what is working and what isn't. I use google analytics to see where my traffic is coming from [whether links on other blogs, name searches, etc] as well as when it comes.

This is important because I've noticed an interesting trend-Comments have very little to do with traffic!!

It is amazing. If you are like me whenever I went to websites I assumed that the more comments there were, the more popular the blog. In fact, this has proven to be almost the exact opposite. As more and more of you become loyal readers I'm noticing less comments. It seems comments come in PRIMARILY by people who stumble upon my blog and have a question. Sometimes it's also something like "I was here".

My hit count has been consistently growing during the same time my comments have almost completely stagnated.

So be encouraged. If you don't see a gob of comments you're in a great group. We'd all like to have people comment on our blog but in reality there isn't any real correlation that I've seen between my traffic, subscription base and comments.

If any of you would like to share your views on this from your own blog I'd love to hear it.

Now, Contests.

As I said, I wanted to wait until Chip MacGregor posted earlier today. I had asked him a question about contests and he said he'd answer it on his blog. Please click this link and read his Feb. 18th post to find out what he had to say, from an agents perspective, about entering contests.

Also, if you know of great fiction and non-fiction contests tell us about them in the comment section. I'd love to hear from you.

Your coach for the journey, Tiffany Colter

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What success is NOT

Is it Thursday already?

I have to tell you, this is one of the best weeks I've had in quite some time. I'm sure all of you have weeks where you look back and smile.

I had some really great things happen to me personally and professionally. First of all I busted through a serious case of writer's block. Next, I made progress on a non-fiction book I'm collaborating on, and my fiction really took a step forward.

In the midst of all of that there was a big boost to my blog hits and a plethora of comments.

I'm very excited about the feedback I'm getting from others on this blog and the places I'm being picked up. Thank you so much, all of you, for posting about me on your blogs. What a wonderful compliment.

I decided with all the great things that have happened this week I'd take time to share with all of you what success is NOT. I share this because I realized today I was putting my success in a place it didn't belong. Getting it back in balance is the reason for the smile on my face today.

I teach TOEFL, ACT and SAT prep as I've shared before. Today I was driving in to work when a song by Point of Grace came on the radio. I think it's called "How you lived". My 9 year old LOVES that song and screams to the radio whenever it comes on. For some reason I really listened to it today. I'm not going to plagiarize the song here but I would like to address how this relates to our writing.

We need to maintain balance in our writing. We must understand what is important and what is not important. We need to know how we define success and pursue it. We must know what needs to be done and do it. We need to follow through on our commitments with excellence.

For me, writing is an important way of communicating. I teach my Writing Career Coaching courses because I Truly LOVE mentoring aspiring writers. I know what it was like in those early years to feel like I was the only one in the world who wasn't published yet. It was a lonely place. That is why I encourage you to link to me on your blogs, tell others about my free resources and low cost products. Get the word out. I offer affiliate programs so you can earn a stream of income by spreading the word. I mentor writers because I love it.

Why do you write? Why do you have a blog? Is it only because someone told you to do one? Or do you have a person in your mind that you want to reach? What do they look like? Where are they?

Success is not simply going through the motions and doing things half way. Success is setting a goal and pursuing it with all the resources you have. Then not giving up when you face rejection or have setbacks. Success is about getting up when you fail.

Success is adjusting. I found out from a few people that all the resources I put on the right side of my mentorship website are almost impossible to see. On my computer they are fine. This is a problem because the free article I offered as well as information on my produce were placed on the right side for easy viewing....instead they were invisible. That explains why there were so few downloads of my free E-zine on articles as compared to home page hits.

But I didn't give up. I found the problem, I adjusted for it and I solved it.

There will be setbacks-success is NOT the lack of failure but rather what you do as a result of that failure.

So, I'll lead by example. I'm reformatting my Mentorship website. Come over and find out about my Writing Career Coach Course part 1: Creating a platform. And while you're there pick up my free E-book on using articles to build your writing.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

More on successful marketing

Hello and happy Wednesday,

We've seen a significant bump in our readership and I checked my stats and learned that many of you are coming over from recent blog carnivals. So if this is your first time to my blog, welcome. I hope that you'll read through the archives and introduce yourselves in the comments section.

Today I'm going to continue talking a bit about my Multiple 6 Marketing.

Yesterday I said that this was more effective than a starfish strategy. To the best of my knowledge both of these are phrases I made up so don't run to your college textbooks and try to find them. Again, we're writers here [well, most of us are] and so I'm trying to create a picture in your mind.

As I described yesterday, Multiple 6 marketing is starting from the local area and gradually moving out. It is similar to viral marketing in that respect.

Starfish marketing is the explosive kind of ADVERTISING based marketing that most people associate with getting the word out. While the starfish does have a central area, it is going in many directions at once.

I'd like to encourage you to start with your sphere of influence and move in concentric circles. Gain credibility with your peers then continue to expand. That is why I focus so heavily on creating a platform even before you have a book. If you wait until your first publishing contract to start to build a platform you run the risk of getting overwhelmed.

If you'd like to know more about the importance of platform I have the Writing Career Coach Course product available for sale on my mentorship website. It is $15 but I think you'll find that it is worth FAR more. Click here to read a description.

Another reason I favor the multiple 6 model to the starfish model is because the starfish can get EXPENSIVE!! When you're starting out as a writer you don't have unlimited funds to buy advertising in 20 or 30 markets. However, with hometown connections and stories on you-there is more MEANINGFUL information shared which won't be shut out like a 30 second ad.

Consider the difference in your reaction to a pop up vs. a blog.

During the course of this blog I shared with you about my course that I sell but that is not the FOCUS of this blog. I simply offer it as a way to help people who want to know more, get information.

It is the same way with articles [the basis of multiple 6 marketing]. By giving others something meaningful and telling them where they can find out more if they'd like to you are PROVIDING A SERVICE, not just trying to sell a product.

I plan to put together a special report on this topic so if any of you have additional questions, please let me know [post them in the comments or email with subj: question on multiple 6]. I want to clear up any confusion.

Now, for those of you who are editors [or would like to be] I will be teaching a course designed just for you through the Christian PEN March 3-24. The deadline to register is Feb. 25. If you'd like more details click here.

I look forward to seeing all of you tomorrow. Tiff

Are you looking for a writing Mentor? You may have just found her. Find out more here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Success with Multiple 6 Marketing

Happy Tuesday

Well I slept so much better last night knowing that my taxes were done. This weekend I had 4 or 5 blogs bouncing in my head. I wrote the titles and subject on a sheet of paper...and can't find it this morning. Laugh.

That's okay. I had this come to my mind as I was working on my other blog. I titled it Books as assets. This blog links well to that one [and vice versa].

Also, in my constant attempt to help you with your marketing I want you to notice the title. "Success with Multiple 6 Marketing". That title was very deliberate. First, it introduces a question. You wonder what in the world it is.

But also, my research has shown me that when I put Marketing or Market in my title...NO ONE COMES. Okay, that's not entirely true. You regulars still come for the most part but my blogrush click throughs drop through the floor.

However, when the word "Success"is in a title, the click-throughs jump. So let's see what happens with both. [Are you trying these kinds of marketing tests? If not, you should be. That way you know how to drive traffic to your site more effectively.]

Okay, so what is Multiple 6 Marketing and how will it help you successfully build your blog, book sales, and public speaking.

This is a term I invented to describe something like Viral Marketing.

I don't know how to draw on here or I'd make a picture for you. Since I can't I'll use the power of the writer's mind to help you SEE the picture. First envision a map of a 3 mile radius of where you live. Put your imaginary pencil on your town. Make the shape of a #6 [without closing the circle all the way]. DON'T lift your pencil. Instead, loop around so you now have a continuous line of growing circles. [Similar to still water when a rock is tossed in].

This is how you should envision your marketing plan. Create a local connection. "Local resident Mentors aspiring writers on new website." Could be the headline here in my town.

But I said MULTIPLE circles. So now take your mind to the map of other areas you have a connection to. I graduated from high school an hour from where I live but I was born and raised [except those last 3 years of high school] 3 hours south of here.

So how would those headlines look?
High school "Local Graduate Mentors Aspiring Writers on New Website."
Home town "Local Native Mentors Aspiring Writers on New Website."

Each of those places are the center of my "growing sixes". I can use those local connections in 3 different places as the basis of my marketing plan. And that is just the start.

Why focus on local? We'll talk later this week about why using a Multiple 6 Marketing strategy can be more effective than a Starfish strategy when it comes to Slow Money. [If you don't know what slow money is see the Feb 7 posting on my Writing Mentor blog. ]

Monday, February 11, 2008

Keeping it legal

This blog is posting late today...and there is a reason.

Today I finished my taxes. Yep, after only 15 hours and a TurboTax program I have finally given Uncle Sam his due.

I've been thinking about different business structures to set up my business. There is the Sole Proprietorship which is what most writers are. And then there are more complex structures.

Since I'm not a tax person I'm not going to make this about the differences in structures, my husband understands those much better than I do, but I am going to remind you to keep it legal.

By that I am not saying that I think you are cheating on your taxes or any such thing. What I'm saying is make sure you are documenting and keeping receipts on everything.

I use TurboTax but whether you use that, H and R block or some other tax preparer-find out what documentation you should be using to maximize your business deductions. Make sure you have the correct forms filled out, make sure you have every necessary receipt-and make sure you know where to get information if you need it.

I know taxes are not a fun topic for anyone [except those of you who work in tax prep. In that case this is a WONDERFUL time of year] but for everyone else, make sure you have someone who knows about tax laws as part of your business team. Keep records and keep it legal.

I'll see you tomorrow. Tiffany Colter

Friday, February 8, 2008

Avoiding the Mutual Admiration Society

I am a fan of blogs.

I truly believe they are not only a great way to build a platform but they are also a great way to learn as a new writer. Even as recently as 10 years ago blogs were unheard of. Today they're making an impact in everything from adoption to politics. Despite their benefits, there is one danger with blogs:

The Mutual Admiration Society

This is where a group of bloggers simply visit each other and there is no real growth. Every once in a while someone will stumble on a particular blog but for the most part it is a small group of people reading each other and going nowhere.

How do you avoid this?

I think by far the best way to avoid this is with content. If the purpose of your blog is simply to keep friends and family up to date on your progress [such as the process of adopting] then you don't need a wide readership. Content doesn't matter as much.

However, if your purpose is growing a platform and building a sphere of influence you must take the time to LEARN and then share your knowledge with your readers. You must become a place where people recognize you as a source of reliable information on specific topics.

To a certain extent this is a process of trial and error. In my early blog days I focused almost exclusively on author interviews to build my readership. Unfortunately this was very time consuming and it didn't result in much traffic other than the periodic bumps that came when the "Mutual Admiration Society" of specific writers came to my blog. There was no long term affect on my blog.

By contrast, when I started teaching people about how to build their writing business my readership increased dramatically. I focused less time on booking "big names" and spent more time adding value to the readership of my blog.

It really makes sense if you think about it. I stay up until 12:45 am to see Craig Ferguson give him monologue but as soon as the monologue is over I click off the TV and go to bed. I have no real interest in the guests he has [with rare exceptions]. I am a fan of the show because of his humor.

It was the same with my blog-when I consistently updated with what my "fans" wanted [information on how to make money as a writer] then they naturally began to tell others and my readership grew.

So figure out who your fans are and what they need and you won't get stuck in the mutual admiration society rut.

Have a GREAT weekend and I'll see all of you Monday.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Always learning


I had an interesting thought today. For those of you who don't know, I teach SAT and ACT prep at a local business. I love working with high school student. They have their whole future ahead of them. They can be anything.

In my capacity as a teacher at this business I have one focus and goal: help them improve their scores. In a world where lack of specialization seems to be rewarded it seems almost odd. To think that someone would spend an entire month preparing for a single, four hour exam is almost to much to think about.

But as I drove home this evening I started thinking about what these students are doing. They are looking at a goal [the test], they are setting a target date [the exam date] and they are doing all they can to put their best foot forward.

I've shared before in my blogs that we can't assume one book will make or break us...but do we face our writing with the same focus as we did standardized tests? [those of us who took them].

For me, the answer is no. I scored in the 96th percentile on my ACT test [I was in the 99th percentile for English] but I missed a full ride scholarship by ONE COMPOSITE POINT. I didn't know the scholarship even existed so I decided 'good enough' was good enough. Now I am finishing up my TENTH year of paying student loans on my B.A. and I'm STILL not done!

What other opportunities do we miss because we don't take the time to find out what is available to us? Are you so focused on one aspect of your writing that you're in the 99th percentile there...but still one point away for reaching your goal because you don't know what it is that you don't know?

I've been in writer's conferences where groups of writers were singularly focused on contracting their first book. As if that were the goal.

It's not.

That book contract is the FIRST STEP in the adventure...but it is by no means the destination [ask any published author].

So where has your focus been? And are you missing opportunities that could exceed your expectations simply because you're letting 'good enough' be good enough.

I'm talking about slow money as part of your writing plan at my other blog. Maybe I'll see some of you over there.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Making money as a writer

Today we're going to start to talk about making money as a writer.

One of the reasons I focus so much on looking at Writing as a Business on my blogs and lessons is because that was the one idea that completely turned EVERYTHING around for me as a writer.

I hope it will do the same for you too.

To start out, let's brainstorm.

What are ways a writer makes money?

I'm sure the most obvious is by writing books. People look at famous writers and assume there is HUGE money in writing. It is true that a person can make a living as a writer, but it isn't simply a matter of reading a book. There is a great deal that goes in to the writing and, in truth, it is SLOW money.

I am not bashing books by any stretch, this is an important part to your overall plan as a writer, but it must be viewed as a piece of the writing puzzle. I will deal with this topic in depth starting tomorrow at my new Mentoring website. It is available as a free blog on the homepage. I hope you will go check it out.

Books should be looked at as a single piece of your overall plan to make money as a writer. This all comes down to streams of income. As a writer income is quite unpredictable and so you must have money coming from many directions to balance the feast and famine that comes with the writer's life.

There are other elements as well that work together that create a cohesive writing business that provides income consistently-and without working CONSTANTLY.

As I've said before, as a writer you want to be consistent, not constant. There need to be ways to earn repeat income. There also need to be ideas to spread the word about your books as they are published.

Consider how you will make money between books. Many writers I know work on the side as public speakers, teachers, editors or any number of other jobs. Most writers work a full-time job and write their stories on the weekends.

So consider your goals.

Also consider how much money you need to make. Chip MacGregor [a literary agent] had a great blog the end of September where he discussed his formula for success as a writer. If you haven't already, go read it.

What is the topic of your story? Who would like to read it?

From emails I've received I know some of you were born in one country then moved to another. I know some of you have overcome great adversity to get to where you are now. I also know that there are a number of you who have really funny experiences to share with others.

Take the things that make you unique and start to share them with other people. That is why I'm such a big fan of blogging after fighting for almost 3 years. I realize it is a great way to connect and dialog with people.

So how will these different things help you make money as a writer? I'll give you a quick example.

Let's say you are from the US and you currently live in France. You decide you're going to write a Romantic Suspense about a woman who travels to France with a tour group and gets separated in a remote area of France. While there she meets a handsome man. [there is the Romance part]. but he has someone trying to kill him [the suspense part].

This is an amazing book full of twists and turns and heart stopping action. Let's assume it sells and you are paid $7,000 cash advance on it. Before you jump on a plane with your 4 kids and 2 dogs to go to Disney World stop...that's not all your money.

You will need to take a good chunk of that to keep aside for marketing. That is why I post so many ideas on marketing on this blog. Read some of my archives to learn more about them.

Then you'll also need to establish a website if you don't already have one. Then you should put some of that money in savings to use in the lean months.

So what do you have left?? Not as much as you started with, for sure.

But you can start to earn that money back, while increasing your sales numbers.

First, you write a few articles. You write an article for a travel magazine about the remote French setting for your book [which is where you happen to have spent 3 summers]. You pitch it to the US as well as some of those great "In Flight Magazines".

Next, you write an article about being an American living abroad [with all of its unique challenges]. And you have this published back in the US.

Then you go visit the Mayor of the town in your book and tell him about this book featuring his town. You get an article put in the newspaper showing you autographing a copy of the book and handing it to a smiling Mayor. [When I was an exchange student I got to meet the mayor of the town I stayed it. It was really cool.]

So let's say the first two articles earned you $150 each plus a byline. You're doing pretty good. Now go blog about it. Tell all about meeting the Mayor and what that was like. Invite your readers to pre-order the book.

Then go online to see if there is a group of American's living abroad that you could go speak to. Take some of your books to sell and offer to autograph them there.

These are just a few ideas on one project [if you are marketing your own book now I'd love to work with you to help create a program to market your book. Click here for more details.] I use this example to show that you don't have to live in a particular location to market your book effectively.

I also want you to see that you can write on many topics from your central book, even if you write fiction. Finally, I want you to see how a multi-pronged approach can help you not only make more money with your book sales but create other streams of income.

We will continue to expand on this and, as I said, I'll deal with this topic in more depth on the blog on my mentoring website: If you haven't been over there to check it out, you should go over there. Many of you have taken advantage of the free download as well as checked out the new WritingCareerCoach product [a 37 page single-space report on Creating a Platform].

So I hope to see all of you at the new blog as well. See you tomorrow.

HIGH...the ongoing story

Well, this will be the last HIGH. There were so many new adventures that came once I attended that first conference. Suddenly people were seeking out my advice for writing, content editing, and marketing. It was a whirlwind of activity. I was teaching people how to market their writing, judging writing contests and entering others. In July I won the Daphne du Maurier award with my unpublished Manuscript "A Face in the Shadow". The contest is put on my the Kiss of Death Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. It was such a huge honor.

With writing each new honor opens a new door. I was beginning to see doors fly open fast and furious [and yes, some flew open right in to my face!!]

In my entire story of How I Got Here the one thing that I learned through it all is there is no such thing as FAILURE in the writing life...unless you quit. Each rejected manuscript helped me to improve my writing, each published article gave me another byline, Every small victory inspired me to try again.

If you've learned nothing else from the series of HIGH blogs I hope you will learn that you are on the right path!! Writing is as rewarding as it is frustrating. I've had articles assigned to me [for pay] on the same day a manuscript was rejected from an agent. I've had people scoff at my products the same day others wrote to tell me how their desire to continue writing was confirmed by something I said in my product.

This is a highly subjective business and in order to survive in this business you need to work on a few different things at once, and you must continue to fail forward [See my posting in 2007 with that title].

So to wrap up HIGH Find a mentor, learn the writing Craft, Believe in your ability to write, and realize to make money as a writer there must be a number of income streams. I'll see you all tomorrow here and hopefully at my other blog too.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

What if you had to?

Writers, or people who would be writers, have one thing in common.

They face challenges.

I've had my share of problems in my life, as well as times with very little adversity, and what I've learned is I am more productive WHEN I HAD TO.

WHEN I HAD TO sell an article to pay a bill, I worked late in to the night. When I didn't have to I would often times watch a sitcom rerun instead.

WHEN I HAD TO finish a proposal to get it to a waiting editor I finished a book in three weeks. When I didn't have to I would pick at it here and there.

WHEN I HAD TO get something done I worked from 10am to 2am for weeks at a time to finish it. When I didn't have to, I didn't.

So do you HAVE to? Have you REALLY decided that writing is something that you WANT to accomplish or would you LIKE to write?

If you're published have you DECIDED you REALLY want to see better sales numbers, or would it "be nice" but not necessary.

Do you HAVE to write a book that is so good your reader can't put it down, or is it just enough to see your name on the cover?

Decide your goals and your motivations and go out and do what you HAVE TO DO.

For me, I HAVE TO be a writing Mentor. I am passionate about seeing people succeed.
For me, I HAVE TO always give people more than they expect.
For me, I HAVE TO make sacrifices now to have a better tomorrow.

I hope for many of you Writing will become something you HAVE TO do.

Regardless, if you are someone who knows you must write, or who thinks they might like to, please come to my Mentorship site and check out the free resources, fun and mentorship program. Sign up to have your project edited [even just the first few chapters] to help your writing improve. Maybe you'd like a second set of eyes to look over an article before you send it to a magazine.

Either way, come check us out. We'd love to see you there:
That is where you'll find a mentor and a community of writers to help you reach the next level.

Answer to website questions


For those of you who have gone to the site and encountered a couple of problems I want you to know they're corrected:

The free article is no longer in a .docx form. It is a .doc

The price for the special subscriber area is $5 for the first month, $10 each month after. It is NOT $25. That was a mistake.

The formatting that cuts off part of the right...not sure how to fix that. It depends on the computer. I have two laptops. On one I can see the whole thing just fine, on the other part of the right column is cut off. So be sure to scroll right.

Make sure you're checking out the Writer Savvy Quiz. It is for fun. This should take you straight to it. You are welcome to share this link on your blogs and websites.

Okay, my blog is coming but I wanted to answer these questions.

And for everyone else, I'll announce the website officially in the next blog which is coming up in a few mintues.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The importance of little things

Hello everyone and HAPPY MONDAY!!!

Today we are going to talk about the little things that make a big difference in our writing [craft], writing [selling your book] and your overall business plan. Along the path to publication there will be little mistakes that can teach you a great deal. I learned that AGAIN this weekend.

It was not the first lesson though.

Consider the little things in your own writing life that steal your time. Writing or reading just ONE more email rather than calling that person you need to interview for an article. What if that 3 minute delay means missing them before they left the office for the next 10 days? And what if that means they won't be in the office until the DAY your article is due--or later? Lesson, don't put off until tomorrow what can be done today.

Then there was the time that I had an editor ask me to send them a full manuscript [those of you who have been keeping up on my HIGH (How I Got Here) series will remember I had only a few weeks to finish it]. As I was still writing the manuscript I sent it off to a friend to read through. We decided the name "Chuck" wouldn't work. I clicked "Find" on my editing bar and selected to replace every "Chuch" with "Charles".

I was quite proud of myself and my mastery of MS Word...until I scanned the Manuscript I'd sent off to the editor and found one of my characters had "Charlesled" instead of "chuckled". I was embarrased...and I'm sure the editor could tell I was still a green writer. [Feel free to laugh about this example. I do.]

And then there is the issue of my website delay. Friday Ron Ruiz of spent over 13 hours emailing back and forth with me, then spent considerable money, to find the reason the website didn't work was I'd capitalized my email address. Since it was transferred in to the program code it messed up the whole system of my website. I learned that NOT ONLY do I need to pay attention to the smallest detail, but I ALSO realized the importance of excellent customer service and rolling with problems.

I didn't get mad ONCE with Ron or badmouth his software. I acted like a professional. There will be setbacks in even the BEST laid plans. I'm glad I followed his advice to do a test run before announcing it to all of you. And I'm glad he is professional enough to stand behind his product.

When you're writing books, articles, websites, or anything professional. Stand behind your work and be willing to exceed expectations. That is what will separate YOU as a true professional. And even if someone gets nasty with you or doesn't appreciate your hard work-you will haven integrity and THAT is the kind of reputation you want to have.

For those of you who are members of this blog [through feedblitz] you will receive your special link to the new website tonight. I'll send it out around 5:30pm EST. This website will also have the new Writing Career Coach product about building a strong platform. We'll talk about platforms more this week.

If you'd like to get the announcement, subscribe before 5:30pm est. Watch for it in your inbox.

For the rest of you, I will make the announcement in a few days so all of you can go too.

I'm super excited about the mentorship website and hope you will all see it as a useful tool in your writing business. Have a great Monday. I must now go type up that article so I get it in on deadline. [see first lesson above :-) ]

Saturday, February 2, 2008

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

Hi Guys,

This is mainly for those of you who are members of my blog. The link for my new, super-cool site was supposed to go out last night but there is a technical glitch of some kind and the MAIN feature isn't working. I was emailing back and forth with the guy who owns the company where my site is from 10am-11:15pm Friday [no joke, I lost almost a full day's work after being up until 2am Thursday night to be sure we were ready to launch].

He is even baffled but he's sent it on to his techies and will get back with me. I saw he's been running tests on my system [they've appeared in my mail box] but the problem isn't solved at the moment.

SOOO as soon as that problem is worked out I will send all of you who are subscribed through FeedBlitz the special link. You will have access days before I announce the site on my blog.

Thank you for your patience.

And I'm not crying. In fact, I have been so impressed with the customer service of the company who is helping me that I'll be blogging about it some time soon. They've really gone above and beyond.

See you all Monday.

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.

Over 100 hours later...


I can hardly believe it but it has taken over 100 hours of work and my new mentorship website is DONE. Either Friday or Saturday I will send the discount coupon and "Pre-opening access" email to everyone who subscribes to this blog [sign up on right through feedblitz]. I will open it up to everyone else by announcing the domain next week. I do ask that those of you who get the "pre-opening access" not give out the domain name until I've announced it on this blog.

Now, something that might help you.

I know some of you are interested in subsidy publishing. This is where you pay the cost of printing your book [and also keep the profits]. This can be a much tougher road to publication.

I know you're saying "No it isn't. It's easier."

Well yes, while it is TRUE that you get published easier, actually SELLING your book CAN be more difficult. However, if you already have an established readership on from your blog or website there are e-book options and instant downloads available. I am familiar with for disks. I've heard great reviews from them and when I've purchased products from others using Kunaki I've been happy with the quality of their work and the speed.

They did raise their prices January 1 but they are still quite reasonable. I have released my Writing Career Coach Course Part 1: Creating a Platform CD using them. I was impressed with how quickly I could upload and design my case. [I will talk more about that experience next week when I release the website and product].

If you DO decide that you want to self-publish you will need to be SURE you pay to have your work edited. It will likely cost a few hundred dollars to get a line edit done but if you are going to publish it.

Tomorrow we will talk more about HIGH and we'll talk about marketing your own E-books or E-products.