Category Archives: get published

1, 2, 3: How to reach your goals

Wannabe goals. We all made them for the new year, right? Unbelievably, we’re now knocking on the door to June.

Often our goals are unspoken but sincere, something we know we need to accomplish to advance our writing. They inspire us for a moment then, in the face of our busy lives, we allow them to fade.

Write my synopsis. Develop my marketing plan. Finish my outline. Finish/Revise my book. Query my top five publishers. Learn how to blog. Get reviews. (Fill in your goals here.)

You know you need to do it. You keep thinking you will. But you don’t.

Read this. Follow the steps, and you’ll do it.

It starts with number one. Three Dog Night sang, “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.” When it comes to goals, I consider it the most difficult number.

If you’re having trouble reaching your goals, try starting with number one. It will help you progress to number two. If you’re not prepared to tackle number one, don’t read this blog. This information is only for those who are tired of letting important goals evaporate in the face of procrastination, laziness or fear.

Still reading? Okay, here’s the not-so-secret formula.

NUMBER ONE. Tell someone important. Your critique group. Your most stalwart friend who supports your dreams. “I am going to (specific goal) this (week/month/summer).

It must be specific. Not, “I’m going to write more,” but “I am going to write to The End by August.” Not, “I’m going to market more,” or “I am going to develop a marketing plan,” but rather, “I’m going to write a marketing plan by August.”

Something good happens when you commit to another person or group. The goal becomes real. Increase your odds of success further by insisting that your friend follows up weekly to ask about your progress.

NUMBER TWO. Generate ideas. Browse the Internet, searching for topics such as “How To (Goal)” and “Top 10 Ways to (Goal).” Then create a mind map, incorporating what you’ve learned from your initial research.

You complete number two to better achieve your number three goal.

NUMBER THREE. Brainstorm with someone with RMFW, or a professional organization within your field, who has accomplished this goal. (Having completed number two, you will have learned enough to ask good questions and you will demonstrate to your expert RMFW or fellow associate that you’ve given this some thought, and have taken those first steps already. Show you’re committed to learning, and others will be more willing to help you.)

Seek out friends and/or associates  have become known for their expertise in, for example, writing, editing, public speaking, workshops, book tours, blogs, reviews, podcasts—the list is extensive. Connect with them through your organization’s on-line loop, monthly newsletter and/or programs, and special events such as an annual conference. Be bold and ask for help, and you’ll appreciate the power and inspiration of having friends to cheer you on.

Remember that this is brainstorming, not mentoring, which represents an extensive commitment that may scare off your targeted expert. Make it clear you’re only looking for suggestions and resources that you will pursue to complete your own plan of action.

NUMBER FOUR. By now, you will have gathered a daunting amount of information and options to consider. Sort by level of difficulty, easiest to most challenging. If your goal includes some area of marketing, sort by affordability. Sort also by effectiveness, based on what you learned in steps three and four.

NUMBER FIVE. Create your action list. Based on the completion date you initially told your critique group or stalwart supporter, put dates on this action list that will reasonably bring you to the finish line.

Make adjustments, if needed. Share your list, and if you keep a hard copy or digital planning calendar, insert those dates with a big star, color code—whatever triggers you to remember the importance of your intermediate goals.

It’s a simple concept, proven over time and as reliable as gravity. It’s also proven over time that you must take step one first.

Go for it! And come back and share your success story with me.  🙂

 

 

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Filed under get published, Life skills, self publishing novls, success techniques, The Writing Life

4 Ways to Boost Happiness–and your goals

Are you happy? How do you feel right now? Anxious, worried? If you’re feeling less than stellar, read on for tips on 4 ways to boost happiness and regain the joy in what we do, be it writing, planning, creating or producing. We can boost happiness by establishing a few simple daily habits–very important, for we can think best when we’re happy.

Get Stay Happy Feb 2016 copy

Because we naturally store negative events in a deeper, more permanent way than positive experiences, there is a dismaying propensity to embed the negative ones. We can overcome that by investing extra effort to focus on our good experiences.

Shawn Achor, head of Goodthink and author of The Happiness Advantage, talks about how we have been fed the life formula of “Success First, Happiness Second.” If we can just get published, we’ll be happy. If we can just get a higher advance we’ll be happy. If we can just win the Golden Heart or the (fill in the blank Award), we’ll be happy. If we can just lose twenty pounds, we’ll be happy.

It’s a formula that doesn’t work, because as we achieve one thing, we set the bar higher and keep chasing that next goal. The formula keeps repeating in our heads, eroding that delicate happiness state for which we worked so hard.

Achor says we’ve got it all backwards. We should not be gaining success to be happy; we should find happiness, which will help us to succeed. Happiness and optimism, she says, is what fuels the success! Positive brains are more motivated, efficient, and creative. Achor quotes John Milton from Paradise Lost: “The Mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” Think of that. Your mind is beautiful. Powerful. Are we focusing on the joy and rewards of writing, or are we hung up on the difficulties, the competition, the stress, or lack of appropriate rewards?

* * * * * * *

“The Mind is its own place, and in itself

can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

* * * * * * *

How do we get happy, and stay there? We needn’t become zombie smile fanatics, but think of the boost we get from talking to an optimistic, happy person. Like some giant, woot-woot magnet, that type of person attracts people, and their happiness is contagious. Short of hiring a talented clown as a full-time body guard, though, how do we “get” and “stay” happy?

In a Denver Post interview with Achor, he gives some suggestions. If you’ve read something similar before and forgotten it after you walked away from the magazine or newspaper, don’t walk away now. Read these tips. Re-read them, and think about how you can integrate some of these behaviors and methods, so you can be happy, and then be successful.

Three Acts of Gratitude. Just two minutes a day, write down three new things for which you’re grateful. Do it for 21 days. The frequency and repetition are powerful because you’re training your brain and, in doing so, will begin to see the world with fresh, happiness-inspiring eyes. Achor warns about generalities, because they don’t work. Rather than “My health,” my kids, my home,” etc., be specific: “I’m grateful for my daughter because she called to ask my opinion. What I think matters to her.” Or, “I’m grateful because I was alert and caught the fine print in that contract, before I signed it.”

The Doubler. Again, for two minutes a day, think of one positive experience you’ve had in the last 24 hours. You’re a writer, so I know you can provide details about it. This can double the most meaningful experience in your brain. Doing it for 21 days will help your brain connect the dots, and you will begin to see and feel the meaning that runs through your life.

The Fun Fifteen. 15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day is, Achor says, the equivalent of taking an anti-depressant. With successful completion of just 15 minutes, your brain records a victory, which carries over into your next activity.

Breathe. For two minutes become conscious of your breath going in and out. Fill your lungs, be aware. This has been proven to raise accuracy rates and increase levels of happiness. And drops stress levels.

Happiness, Achor says, is a huge advantage in our lives. When the human brain is positive our intelligence rises. We stop diverting resources to think about anxiety.

Our creativity triples.

More to come on this topic next Wednesday. I’ll be asking you if you tried the Three Acts of Gratitude, the Fun Fifteen, and the Breathing. Give it a try, and let’s meet again and compare notes.

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Ireland Writer Tours 2016

As I mentioned earlier, I will be teaching in a unique setting this August when I team up with multi-published YA/Middle Grade author Dianne Salerni to present the “Secrets to Publishing Success” conference. It will include private consultations and writing classes, with plenty of time for brainstorming plotting ideas.

Dunguire Castle Small

Ireland Writer Tours combines the excitement of touring the Emerald Isle with the inspiration and help of a personal writer’s conference

These surprisingly affordable tours are a heady combination of writing workshops and visiting fascinating attractions in Ireland — a fourteenth century abbey, haunted castles, stone circles, mysterious lakes — it sounds too good to be true, but it is! I’m excited to see all these inspirational sights and share my secrets about publishing and marketing. Something I love even more than writing is inspiring other writers to follow their hearts to create successful, award-winning stories.

This tour has been described as the perfect holiday or birthday gift. I first learned of it through Pam Nowak and Susan Spann. Pam attended the tour last year, and all of my writer cells screamed for me to attend with her, but I couldn’t. I so wanted to stow away in her suitcase. She was generous about sharing, though, and I saw photos of her touring days.  Pam will be presenting a June conference on Craft, Career and Publishing.

Susan, a publishing attorney, presented last year and posted several pictures that made me drool. You can see her post at http://www.susanspann.com/looking-for-a-writing-retreat-try-ireland-this-summer/

And here’s a general post from the tour organizers at http://www.theroadlesstraveledireland.com

This is heaven-on-earth for writers. Come on and join me for the writing, the sights, and the inspiration!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under get published, Ireland Writing Retreat, self publishing novels, Social Media Marketing, success techniques, The Writing Life, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Retreats

Tabor’s Trinket earns Amazon Best Seller status!

Amazon Best Seller w Nos 6 in wide copyI was half-heartedly checking sales of Tabor’s Trinket last night, and found this!  I was stunned and so pleasantly surprised! Okay, okay, I admit it– I was screaming and jumping around like Serena Williams.  Tabor’s Trinket is an Amazon Best-seller in three categories!  I’m smiling so much, my face hurts! Thanks to all my dear family and friends for your support during my venture into the Kindle world! Thanks for buying my book, and for believing in me!!

To all of my author friends and blog friends who have been following this saga, you know I resisted offering my novels for sale on Kindle. You know how many years I hemmed and hawed and wondered if I should try this.  And here I am, sharing this news with you.  I’m in a delightful state of shock!

 

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Self-publishing-Courage on Steroids!

Fran commented on my previous post, sharing that she, too, had taken the self-publishing path.

What kind of fears do we suffer when we take this big step in our careers? We don’t have the shelter of a big New York publishing house — we lack the stamp of approval that comes from a big publisher’s editor.

I’ve come to realize there *are* traits and talents we *do* possess, though. With traditional publishing, I assumed I would get publicity, but in hindsight, I see that I did the lion’s share of promotion– a massive amount of publicity and advertising. Being our book’s best advocate is challenging, and yes, exhausting!  I wake up in the middle of the night, thinking about it.  What have I missed? What can be done more thoroughly? How can I best reach the readers who will love my book?

Doubts needle at the oddest times.  What if my book is given a scathing review? What if my friends read it and–after all my excited conversations about writing, they read it, grimace and think, “So this is what she’s so excited about?”  We don’t have an editor or an agent reassuring us along the way.  We are, from the beginning, in charge of nurturing our Positive Mental Attitude (PMA), and funding all of our promotional activities.

It’s daunting, but we’re not in this alone.  There are hundreds of thousands like us.  Networking helps. Let’s keep clutching our COURAGE cards and following our dreams!  Go ye forth. Believe. Promote. And write more wonderful books!  –Janet

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Filed under eBook industry, get published, self publishing novels, Social Media Marketing, success techniques, The Writing Life

Choice Overload – Work through the fear to make good choices

Avoid choice overload by focusing on your unique needs.

By Janet Lane

I subscribe to Ted Talks and viewed an interesting presentation by Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia Business School and author of The Art of Choosing.  Her talk was about choice overload.

Writers can benefit from her insight. She cited an experiment in which grocery store shoppers were given a choice of 6 different kinds of jams.  On the same day shoppers were given a choice of 24 different kinds of jam. Their findings: more people stopped at the 24-jam table, but only 1 in 24 actually bought a jar, while at the 6-choice table, 30% bought a jar. Bottom line: people were 6 times more likely to buy if they encountered 6 instead of 24 varieties of jam.

What does jam have to do with you?  When faced with a bewildering array of choices, we are more likely to avoid choices, more likely to make a bad decision, and more likely to derive less satisfaction from the choice.

Writers are faced with a massive number of choices that can paralyze us, make us likely to make any decision, in a time when a good decision may help you in our  careers.  Here are just some of them.

Publishing options.  Traditional New York Publishers. Small publishers.  Vanity publishers.  Kindle Publishing. B&N Nook Publishing. Smashwords Publishing. Innovative on-line publishers.

Author support services.  Web site design. Book cover design. Editing services.  Advertising opportunities – Google and other pop-up banners.

Buying paid advertising in return for a book review. Bookmarks, pens, calendars, etc.  A mind-boggling number of blogs and Yahoo groups that offer help with any aspect of writing you could ever imagine.

Educational services.  Dreamy retreats in gorgeous locations, with hands-on instruction on plotting, revising, polishing.  A multitude of on-line writer’s courses for craft and marketing.  Software instructional tapes so you can create your own website, book covers, etc.

 “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can doIs the right thing.

The worst thing you can do is nothing.”  –Theodore Roosevelt

 Here are some succinct ways to reduce your choice overload problem.

  1.  Cut.  Reduce your options.  Why agonize over how to design a book cover if you still haven’t decided you’ll e-pub?  Don’t ponder over selecting a $750/book editor if you don’t have the funds for it. Selecting the big choices first will help you eliminate more than half of the choices.  Write in your consumer journal:  “I need to decide X first.  Then Y.  The rest can wait for another time.  I will focus on this first.”
  1. Concretization.  Make it real. Gather as much information as you can, so you can really “see” what that choice is. Ask the journalistic 5 W’s: who, what, when, where, why. Ask successful authors what worked best for them. Learn the costs, royalties, expenses and demands involved in each option.  If you don’t qualify for X and Y, eliminate them as options.  Simplify.
  1. Categorization. If you’re swimming in genres, pick one and focus on that for this time in your life. You can always do a separate study later on something else, but give A, B or C genre your full focus for now, not all three.
  1. Start easy.  Make choices in the areas that have the least number of choices – like Iyengar’s jam tasting table, go to the table with 6 selections first.  Find a way to minimize choices, perhaps by ease of entry, affordability, or some factor that will give you more simplicity and ease of choice.

“A real decision is measured by the fact that

you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action,

you haven’t truly decided.” — Tony Robbins 

– – – – – – – – –

 Wishing you many opportunities … and good choices!  –Janet

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Agent panel at Colorado Gold – agent tips and secrets

by Janet Lane

RMFW (Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers) annual conference offers a wealth of educational workshops and editor/agent panels to help aspiring writers get published. Go to rmfw.org and click on 'conference' to learn more about next September's conference.

Agents at the RMFW conference this year gave us insight and tips that may change the way you target agents, and when and how you query.

Agents on the panel:

Rachelle Gardner, Wordserve Literary Group

Sara Megibow of the Nelson Literary Agency

Rebecca Strauss of the McIntosh & Otis, Inc. Literary Agency

Sandra Bond of the Sandra Bond Literary Agency

Here’s a peek into the Q&A session.

 Don’t get caught doing this!

When asked what not to do when sending a query, Rachelle Gardner advised that you don’t start with a rhetorical question, or try to be cute. Follow the submission guidelines for that particular agent.

Sara Megibow suggested that you don’t sub in a genre she doesn’t represent.  Write a blurb that will make her want to read the book.  “I want your query letter to sound like the back cover of the novel,” Sara said.

When trying to suggest an audience for your work, Rebecca Strauss suggested you avoid saying, “I’m the next Faulker.”  Instead, try some content comparison with a known author.  Example:  “My work is along the lines of  X Author.” She said it helps to research what the agents represent. Her example:  “I enjoyed Tempest Rising, and my book is similar to that.”  That, Rebecca said, will make her love you.  “Our books are like our children.  If you compliment them you compliment us.”

Does location matter?

Located in New York, Rebecca is in contact by email and phone, but enjoys the convenience of meeting with editors.  “It’s fun to get drinks with them.”  With personal meetings, she feels they open up more about their editorial needs.  She meets with editors once or twice a week.

Sara’s son loves the New York taxicabs. She travels there for business but “I don’t wine and dine editors in New York.  You can live in the North Pole, but what you want to ask, if you are offered representation, is, ‘Will you represent my book and get it sold?’ Not, ‘Do you buy editors beer?’”

Rachelle loves being able to live here and do her job. She sells mainstream fiction to general markets and to Christian publishers. There are four major Christian  publishers in Denver and in Nashville.  She attends conferences and meets editors there. “When I pitch a book, the main thing is will it get read?” she said. “I don’t have any editors ignoring me.  It won’t be based on where I live.  If I were having trouble getting an editor to pay attention to me that would be a problem, but it’s not.”

Sandra noted that agents live all over the place, and editors know that. “Your job is to target the appropriate agent who is right for your book and our job is to target the right editor for your book,” she said.  “It doesn’t matter where we live.  We do also attend many conferences and meet editors, and go to New York and meet with the editors when we need to.  I have specific editors with whom I want to meet.  But I’m also very good at phone relationships.  Authors, too, are all over the place.  I have authors I haven’t met before.”

 E-publishing – panacea, or the death of publishing?

E-publishing is, they agreed, another format of a book, like an audio book.

We may have fewer printed books, but they’ll never ever go away. Yes, there’ll be lots of e-books, but it’s still a book.

Rachelle noted that everyone in the industry is trying to discover how all who are involved in publishing are going to continue to make money from the written word. We can try to re-invent the wheel every day but we still don’t know the answer to that question.  How much readers will pay for the written word is the new question.

Sara agreed.  “The question is: an author may have 25 rejections and ask, ‘Shall I self-publish?’”  Avoid making an emotionally based decision (To heck with you, I can publish and make my millions without you). Don’t e-publish because you don’t like New York, or don’t like not having control of your career.  “Be careful.”

Rebecca observed that we’re all trying to figure it out every day, trying to guess how we’re going to stay in business, all working hard to get negotiating language in contracts which limits time, where standing royalty rates are in effect and re-evaluate in two years.

Coming next:  bidding wars, age discrimination and surprising insights

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