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Monday, June 23, 2014

Crash Writing Fads - guest post by Lauren Orbison

I have lost a lot of weight this year.

Since last year, I’ve lost about 41 pounds. Everyone always asks me what my secret is. I tell them, “I cut out sugar, starting eating lots more protein, vegetables, and exercising.”

“I don’t know if I can do that, honey!” They exclaim. They shrug and walk away. I know from that reaction, they’re not really interested in change. They don’t want to know what I’ve really been doing. They just want a magic solution that will solve their problems and they hope I’ve got it.

Similarly, when someone makes an “overnight success” with writing, people bombard them with questions. They ask for advice. “What’s your secret?” “How’d you do it?” are common reactions.

“I studied the craft of writing, worked my fingers to the bone on this project for four years, lived on ramen noodles and frozen dinners, sent out a hundreds of query letters and got a lot of rejections, before I ever saw a dime of profit.”

Nobody wants to hear that either.

Everyone wants an instant magic pill to help them lose weight. Everyone wants a magic wand that they can wave and have money appear instantly in their bank account for a book they wrote. No planning, no habits for success, no nothing.Just a hope and a dream.

But hopes and dreams are worthless without an action plan to make them happen.

So how do you turn dreams into reality?

You plan.

You work hard.

You sacrifice.

Let’s talk about planning.  A lot of aspiring writers write a story, do no editing whatsoever, and stick it up on Amazon or Lulu and pray it sells hoping that they will have some “magic” just because the put some words on paper.  And it never does because the writing is poor quality, or if they do sell a few copies, it was because they pestered their family and friends to death until someone actually bought one.

That’s not a plan.

What is a plan? According to dictionary.com a plan is this:

1. a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc., developed in advance: battle plans.
2. a design or scheme of arrangement: an elaborate plan for seating guests.
3. a specific project or definite purpose: plans for the future.
4. Also called plan view. a drawing made to scale to represent the top view or a horizontal section of a structure or a machine, as a floor layout of a building.
5. a representation of a thing drawn on a plane, as a map or diagram: a plan of the dock area.

Let’s take a special look at definition number 2. A design or scheme of arrangement.

How to put that in writing terms?

Remember an important key phrase, “Your book is a product.” Yes. Product. A book is NOT your baby. Let me repeat. Your book is NOT your baby. A baby needs care, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will eventually grow up into a person. A book is an inanimate object capable of neither thinking nor moving nor doing anything at all except sitting on a shelf whether virtual or physical until someone pulls it off and reads it. 

I admit to being guilty of this line of thinking when I was first starting out. But. If you’re planning on writing to sell your work, you are a business. A BUSINESS. You are not a PARENT.

So many writers are not business people. We are creative, yes. But we don’t think in business terms when we should. So change that mindset first. In theory you’re producing something people want to buy. But first you have to figure out if you really have a product worth selling.

How to do that?

  1. You need a marketing plan.  Figure out your target audience. You need to note how you’re going to reach your target audience. You need to look at prices of similar books in your genre and figure out how to make your book stand out from what’s already out there. If you’re going Indie, you need to price your stuff accordingly. If you’re going traditional publishing, looking at their catalogues and see what’s out that is similar to yours and target those people with your query letters.

  1. Set up business accounts at your local bank.  Many financial institutions offer free DBA accounts. DBA stands for, Doing Business As. As a general rule, you don’t have to have a business-operating license to have a DBA. These rules may vary from state to state so be sure and check on this sort of thing. And all things you purchase for your business should come from your DBA.  As a writer intending to sell a manuscript, you can actually write a lot of this stuff off come tax time, so that’s one reason among many to keep things separate.

  1. Set up separate online accounts for your business: paypal, etc. Amazon, wherever you plan on doing business. Direct the money to be deposited into your DBA. From there you can move funds to your regular bank account later. But it should first be deposited in the DBA.


  1. I liked your post and know it to be true that it will work. In the course of my life I have had the luck or good fortune to meet or cross paths with some people who are very successful in their fields. In sports, many did not plan to be great or famous. What they did do was plan to be the best they could be. To do that they knew they needed to practice with obsession. Not occasionally, but regularly and intensely, striving to be better today than they were yesterday and not settling for less than their best. That is true in almost all fields of endeavor. I wish you the best, you already know what it takes.

  2. Thanks so much for your lovely comment! I have been up to my eyeballs in work getting my first title ready to launch and just now saw it. :-)