_ After a score of years thinking about it; one year of honing my craft, writing my first (but unpublished) manuscript; 74 queries and rejections; and another four months of writing _THE WATCHMAN OF EPHRAIM_ … on January 21, 2011, I became a published author. It’s amazing the changes that have taken place since then – changes for me personally and changes for the entire publishing industry. Those changes have been well publicized by so many already, I won’t rehash them in detail, but I will share with you two of my objectives for 2012, along with a few friendly suggestions for my brutha and sista neo-pro writers out there.
Before I do, let me tell you some of what I accomplished in 2011. Keep in mind, I started at virtually 0 with everything. As of January 21, 2011, I had 0 sales, 0 Facebook Likes, and 0 Twitter followers.
Today, December 31, 2011, I have two published novels that have made a total of six Amazon Bestseller’s lists in four countries (2 in US; 1 in UK; 2 in Germany; 1 in France); I’ve now sold THOUSANDS of my novels around the world; and I grew my total LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter/Goodreads/MyWebsite followers to over 22,000! All praise to Him! You can also take a look at the Popularity Rankings of _THE WATCHMAN OF EPHRAIM_ and _SIGNS OF WAR_ on the right of my home page here. As you see, pretty impressive rankings across a number of sub-genres ... again, all praise to Him Almighty!
I want to stop here and shout out special thanks to the following author/friends of mine for their guidance, motivation, support, and friendship ... I simply could not have accomplished the above without them:
Also, keep in mind, neither of my books were break-out successes. In fact, in the entire first quarter of 2011, I had only sold a total of 21 books … not exactly “The Help” numbers. c”,)
One more thing … though it seems to irk so many whenever I mention my mantra for success, I’m gonna say it again here – the mantra that has most influenced my success so far has been something my older brother Peter taught me “ALL THINGS, ALL THE TIME!” That means sacrificing time with my sons and friends, time in front of the ‘idiot box’ (my mom used to refer to the TV as the Idiot Box, when we were young) or playing video games or just ‘taking a day off’ during the week, other than on Sabbaths (that’s what God made the weekly Sabbath for, in the first place). It also means turning over every shell, constantly investigating new ways to market and promote, constantly engaging with the global audience, constantly working on my writing, constantly edifying myself in my craft – keeping up on the new technologies …. Interacting with other writers, sharing ideas and cross-promoting … and all of it every day! I apply the exact same work ethic that I utilized for working in four other industries to writing … yes it’s an art form but to professionals, it’s also our business.
Final thought on this: The actor Will Smith was once asked in an interview what he attributed most to his great success. He said unequivocally that it was the fact that he was “willing to DIE” in order to achieve his objectives and goals in life. I’ve personally made a bunch of sacrifices in pursuit of my goal of becoming one of the most successful published authors of my generation someday. My wife and sons also had to make sacrifices … I couldn’t do it without them. I’m willing to die to achieve my goals … so failure is not an option!
Now for two of my objectives and suggestions:
WRITING: Being a student of Dean Wesley Smith, I’ve set my writing objective at three full-length novels for 2012. In 2011, I was able to publish two full-length novels and have begun the third, so I’m optimistic that I will accomplish this objective. I may even be able to begin work on a fourth novel, sometime in December ’12. I may also experiment with something a number of prolific authors do – that is, to work on more than one novel at a time. I listened to James Patterson talk about how he was working on 37 novels at the same time. He explained that some were in concept stage and others in various stages of completion. I figure if Patterson can work on 37, I should be able to work on two at the same time. I’m a contiguous personality-type (I like to finish one thing first then move on), so to make it easier for me, I will attempt working on two novels in two different series. That could work and even end up benefiting my creativeness with each series, as they are so diverse – switching between the two could offer me a bit of a respite while still writing.
My suggestion: Set your writing objectives for 2012 now! Consider what you want to accomplish - the body of work you would like to complete by 31 December, 2012. Instead of setting deadlines that could cause distraction, set time-frames for completion. Perhaps an entire month as your time-frame for completion (for example, I’m using April, 2012 for my next novel, _RISE TO THE CALL_). I believe the most important aspect of developing a successful writing career is not marketing or social networking … it’s WRITING & PUBLISHING! Final though: Don’t set your objectives to low … push yourself. You’ll be surprised with what you can accomplish when you do.
SOCIAL NETWORKING: There is no doubt that social networking will continue to play an important part of promotion and marketing for most writers. I utilize my blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter to stay connected with my friends and potential readers. There’s little I need to do in this area except more of the same. The #1 most important thing to remember when utilizing your social networking is NOT to talk AT people … talk TO them! So many people are advertising and promoting nowadays that the general population is becoming deaf and dumb to most of it. Simply tweeting a promo of your book won’t cut it – you first need to ENGAGE with your audience! Granted, not everyone is comfortable interacting with other folks, but I know for a fact that virtually everyone has something to offer – either informative – compassionate – passionate (about something) – funny … or even just a good listener. If you can’t offer one of those things, you shouldn’t be a professional writer anyway. And remember, informal is what you want to convey but always be PROFESSIONAL. Consider every single public or private communication as communicating your brand … and for pity’s sake spell check … nothing like trying to get readers to buy your books by sending out messages like “For a limit time …” or “I would aprreciate it if you take a look at my book …” Yeah … that’s the author I want to read!
My suggestion: The most important aspect about social networking, for a professional utilizing it as a form of marketing and promotion, is to do it CONSISTENTLY! Social networking isn’t about ‘firing & forgetting’ … it’s about communicating every day. I never take a day off from it. To give you an idea, in 2011, I sent out over 27,000 personal messages – mostly in the form of replies to requests to connect or my introducing myself to someone. In every single one of them, I addressed the individual by their name (spelled correctly) – not bulk messages … treating people the way I like to be treated. The only way to send out that many messages is to social network EVERY DAY, on a schedule – as part of my ‘work day.’
2011 will go down as the year Self-Publishing broke wide. A critical mass of eReaders has now been sold, which means the paradigm has forever altered in literary publishing. eBook is now king. Paper will continue to be around, but it will find its new place as a less important medium … just like faxes are still around but they’ve given way to email.
I won’t go on and on with predictions but I will make one for you to keep in mind: Now that ePub 3 and Kindle’s new format has been approved, it will most likely make a beachhead by fall of next year. Along with those new formats will come a new generation of eBooks. In fact, I’d go on to say that it will spark a dawn of an entirely new MEDIUM … fully interactive eBooks with embedded multimedia – music, video, animation, etc.
2012 will see the birth of the OMNI-BOOK!
And as more stuff get's published QUALITY content will begin to rule the day!
I can't wait!
Blessings, health, joy and success in 2012!
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