There are indeed five things every writer has to do now if they’re interested in surviving in this modern online world. (This also holds true for every creative person who sells their own work but the focus here is on writers.)
- Be good enough to warrant attention
- Build a mailing list
- Create a website
- Work Facebook like a pro.
- Take control over the sales process
Be Good Enough To Warrant Attention
There’s no point beating around the bush. In order for people to read you, to follow your activities, you have to produce great content that consumers want. There’s a ton of competition out there for attention, and the most important prerequisite for success is being great at what you do. You’ve probably read this advice a hundred times. I have. It’s in every magazine, it’s on every website and the first advice off the lips of speakers.
Get good enough to warrant attention.
But how do you do this? I can’t speak for others but this November marks the third year I’ve been learning to write fiction and not showing a great deal of it to the public. In this time, I’ve taken three courses (two half-year and one year-long one) and have also had two pro level editors take a whack at various projects. I’ve spent the money to learn, spent the hours practicing and have written hundreds of thousands of words. Maybe I’m a slow learner, maybe there’s a mindset that non-fiction writers have to abandon to write fiction, maybe… Who knows? I do know I’m getting closer to just letting it loose – good or bad – and move forward with continuing to get better.
My best .02. Get a pro to evaluate your stuff. Not a friend. Not a family member. Hire a pro to judge and report back at the pro level. Then you listen carefully, respect that process, and move forward.
Rinse and repeat until you’re at a competent level. Put it out to the market and see what happens. In a crowded world, work has to be better than good to survive, to be worth being rewarded beyond family and friends.
Get A Mailing List
This is a critical step for any creative person. No matter how this is managed, creative people ignore it at their peril. Everything else can change around you but if you have that list, your readers/fans/buyers will come with you.
While I use AWeber, another service called Mailchimp.com offers a free 2000 subscriber level that a great many beginners use.
For free – use.
Get A Website
You want to control your own content. That’s the prime rule in creativity right now. Without this home base, you’re dependent on other systems for making your work available to the public. This is your home base and you need to control it.
Work Facebook Like A Pro
The social media wars are over and Facebook is the clear winner. They own the eyeballs, own the data and 1.5 billion people use this site. You need to understand how to present yourself, present your material and still use this system for your own advantage.
It’s not about having a lot of friends. It’s about being able to use the powerful advertising systems on Facebook to drive consumers to your mailing list and website.
Control The Sales Process
This one is a massive subject and one that’s about as easy as keeping ice cream untouched in a room full of hungry teenagers. It’s a work in progress and one that changes almost every month as the Net morphs around it. And yes, I’ll have much more to say about this in future articles as I report back to you.
If It Was Easy, Everybody Would Do It
It’s so easy to say these are the five areas you need to master. Too many pundits toss this kind of advice out to the public and stand back and watch everyone mill around. Or, more likely, they offer an expensive course on how to move forward.
I’m not going to offer a course.
What I will do is share some of my thinking and experiences as I move forward with both the planning and operation in these areas. This note is the shot across the bow that precedes an interesting project and challenge.
Where To Start
You have to decide to succeed. Far too many writers don’t take this first step. They wish they could succeed but they don’t commit to success and to doing the real work that success demands.
You have to plan. And even fewer do this one.
You have to master each of the five areas above.
A Contrarian View
Just to lob a contrarian thought out there, I’m sure some successful writers don’t do most of the above. Some get by on their words alone. And if you’re very, very good and really, really lucky, you may become one of them. For the rest of us, it’s about playing the odds and doing the work.
All you have to do today is make the tough decision to succeed.
To do the work. To take the risk.
Go write it down on a piece of paper and tape it over your computer screen. That’s it.
Let it sit and brew. Let it soak into your thoughts that you’re about to do what it takes to make a difference in your creative life.