The Business of Writing

The moment you decided to become a writer, you become a business. Not only are you in business, you are the CEO of You Incorporated. Everything you do and say from this point on will be scrutinized. People will suddenly care what you have to say and genuinely want your opinion on everything. What exactly, is the business of writing?

Writing as a business is about more than putting words on paper. It’s about sharing ideas and at times challenging beliefs. Writing is about giving a voice to the disenfranchised or being an authority in a field. It’s about communicating effectively as both a teacher and a storyteller. The hardest part of the business of writing is discovering your platform. Once you decide what being a business means for you, then you can sit down and be about the business of writing.

When I began my publishing company back in 2004, I branded myself as a writer of Christian books for children and young adults. I’ve since expanded that to include adults. The subject matter is on a different level but my message is still the same. My mission has not changed. There is room to grow and evolve even within the brand and platform you’ve chosen.  Just be strategic in how you roll out the new direction of your company. I’m always looking for ways to improve the business and to find what I consider to be success.

Success for some writers is being published. For others, it’s writing a best seller. For me it’s being able to use my gifts and talents to make a living that will help support my family. It’s writing this blog in the hopes that I’ll share something that will help you take things to the next level in your writing. This is the cake for me, public recognition would be the icing.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D.P. McLaughlin

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Guerrilla Marketing

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1guer·ril·la

noun \gə-ˈri-lə, ge-, g(y)i-\

: a member of a usually small group of soldiers who do not belong to a regular army and who fight in a war as an independent unit.

You have to ask yourself, why the writers of the Guerrilla Marketing series compared themselves to soldiers and marketing to war.  Any selfpublished author, who has tried to get their books into Barnes and Noble knows exactly why. Trying to get your book to be seen in the sea of published books can be like fighting a war with just a small rag-tag regiment. Typically a guerrilla army doesn’t have all the weapons and upgraded equipment of the regular army. However, in Guerrilla Marketing for Writers, you learn how to use what you’ve got to market your book.  Most of the marketing tools in the book cost little to no money and can be implemented in a day.

Guerrilla Marketing for Writers is a book that everyone who has published or hopes to publish a book should read. I bought this book back in 2003 and I periodically pick it up and use it as a reference book on book marketing. There have been a couple of revisions since then. Also check out Guerilla Marketing for Writers 2.0, which includes all of the revised strategies as well new media weapons you can add to your arsenal.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D.P. McLaughlin

Outlet

images-1Writing is used as a form of therapy. The act of journaling provides a much-needed outlet for many. However when you are a writer, what do you do? I still journal but I find that I need something more at times. I’ve taken up running and exercising to release tension and stress. I work through many issues and plot twists while I’m out on the trail or sweating it out on the elliptical. I often write listening to music because it helps me to relax and provides the emotions needed to write from the heart.

It’s so important that a writer has an outlet or a way back into the regular world. The mind of a creative person can be a playground but it can also become a toxic place. It doesn’t matter if your outlet is a social (bowling) or solitary (knitting), you just need a way to decompress and exit the world of your latest and greatest masterpiece. There is a reason writers gained the reputation for being a bunch of drunkards. Some turned to alcohol as a means of escape. Others thought alcohol sparked creativity. I’d caution you to choose your muse wisely.

In addition to adopting a hobby, it may also be beneficial to totally unplug from time to time. Many years ago, I instituted what I called, “unplugged weekends”. From Friday morning through Sunday night I would totally unplug all of my electronic devises. I’d let my family and close friends know on Thursday, not to call me till Monday and where they can find me in case of an emergency.  I’d spend those times of silence, reading, praying, and journaling. I’d often add fasting and meditation to detox my mind, body and spirit. On Monday morning I awoke refreshed and at peace with renewed vision and energy.

If you find yourself feeling stuck and uninspired, look for a new outlet. Do whatever it takes to sharpen your focus and rekindle your passion for writing. This often means taking a step away and doing something else for a while.  Distance indeed makes the heart grow fonder.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D.P. McLaughlin

Focus

Today’s post is about how to make it as a professional writer.  Most artistic types are  resigned to struggle and barely make it in life.  I for one have never wanted to be a starving artist, and so I’ve done my best to find ways to make money writing.  I know a hand full of writers who like myself, are at various levels of making it. I also know many other writers who would love to write for a living but for now, writing is basically a hobby. The difference between writing as a hobby and writing to pay the bills is an issue of focus.  If you know anything about self-actualization, you know that what you focus on the most is what will manifest. So where is your focus?

If your focus is off, try adopting some of the following practices to renew your focus.

  1. Write everyday. Give yourself a word limit and do it everyday.
  2. Read something everyday. Preferably in the genre you want to write in.
  3. Learn the business. Everyday research and learn something new about the publishing business.
  4. Enter writing contest. If you’re writing everyday, you should have enough material to enter several contest every year.
  5. Travel as much as you can. Journal about your experiences and the people you meet.
  6. Attend book fairs, writer’s conferences, and any gathering of authors and or publishers. Get to know people who are already doing what you want to do.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D. P. McLaughlin

Share the Wealth

If you’ve been writing for any length of time, it’s likely that you have a wealth of information that you can share with the world. I had a professor in college who used to always give us random tidbits to place in our “cesspool of knowledge.”

All the research you’ve done and your life experiences have a value out there in the marketplace. You can either sell this knowledge or give it away but whatever you do, don’t hold it. The next generation of writers will be forever grateful that you shared the wealth. Here are but a few ways you can share what you know.

If you are so inclined, you can even blog or use your Facebook page and Twitter account to give good advice and information to your followers. There are many gurus who can teach you how to package and sell your information. Once you reach a certain level, people will pay good money to find out what you know. However, I’ve found that in the beginning, it’s easier to give it away, and pay it forward. None of us has gotten where we are by ourselves.  So find ways to give back to others and you’ll see it pay off for you in big ways and small ways.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D.P. McLaughlin

You Are What You Read

images-1In the same way the food you eat literally builds and shapes your body, the books you read shape your mind. What you read, forms the basis for your beliefs, and serves as your base of knowledge. Books color the way you view the world and how you interact with people. Words have power when spoken but they have just as much power when read. Did you know that the type of books you like to read says more about you than the clothes you wear?  One of the tools that FBI agents use to learn about the mind of a serial killer is to review the list of books they have checked out from the library.

What have you been reading? I challenge you to take a look at what you like to read? List the top five genres that you read regularly in order of importance to you. Then ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is it about the number one genre that I like the most?
  2. Do I primarily read for information or entertainment?
  3. If you could not complete the list because you only read one or two types of books, what don’t you like about other genres?

They say self-examination is good for the soul. However, the answer to these questions will lead you to some important insights as to the type of person you are becoming. For example, If you only read nonfiction/self-help books and you primarily read for information, you are most likely looking for a solution.  I know people who don’t like reading newspapers or magazines because bad news and current events depress them. There are other people who have to read dry academic writing for work and so when they sit down to read for pleasure, they only read fiction, because they need to escape.

If you want to be a well-rounded individual and writer, you should read a balanced mixture of fiction and non-fiction and several genres.  I tend to lean toward non-fiction, so I on occasion will make myself read fiction. I’ve also recently tried my hand at writing my first novel, just to prove to myself that I can write fiction. I prefer a good mystery, but have challenged myself to read a sappy love story. Sometimes I’ll ease into a genre that I’m not as familiar with by reading what I call a hybrid genre. I’d rate Science Fiction as last on my list, but a Sci Fi Whodunit might grab my attention.

Next time you reach for a book consider that maybe it is not you that chooses the book but maybe the book has chosen you.  There are times when I’ll find a book at the precise time I need to read it. Then there are books that I’ve bought and could not read them until years later. But when I did, I found I was in a place to receive the information, whereas I may not have been when I bought it.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D.P. McLaughlin

 

Seize the Day

DownloadedFile                  I attended a meeting over the weekend for local authors. We were celebrating 5 years of being a group. There were door prizes, like book lights and journals. What you would expect for a writer’s group. However, I happened to win an alarm clock. When she called my number, I thought wow, I never win anything. Which actually is not true, I just never win the things I really want. The leader of our group explained that she bought the alarm clock to symbolize that it is time for some of us to wake up and write. The alarm clock sounds like a siren. So not only do we need to wake up and write but it’s urgent that we awake. Sound the alarm!

Nothing is lost on me, so the door prize that everyone else was probably glad they did not win has inspired me to write this blog. I meet people all the time, who ask me for advice on writing. They have this story that they have been thinking about and maybe taking notes on for years. The only advice I can give, is to seize the day. Every day that you talk about it but don’t write is another day the world has to wait to hear your story. Every year that you wish you could write but don’t write is another year that the world has to wait for the solution to their problems.

In life the only time we have to live in is called now. Once the moment passes it’s gone never to be lived again, except in a flashback. When it comes to writing, you can’t continue to put it off until tomorrow because tomorrow is not promised. If you want to write, you are going to have to do it now. I began offering my services as a ghostwriter and work on other freelance projects because people just don’t have the time to write. But at least they understand that the time to get their message out there is now, and so they pay someone else to write it for them.

I had intended to surprise my husband by changing out the alarm clock while he was sleeping. As funny as that would be, at least to me, I’ve decided to use the alarm clock to mark my time to write each day. Some times when you work from home you fall into the trap of doing everything except what you’re supposed to be doing. Starting today, when the alarm goes off I will stop what I’m doing and write for at least an hour.

Until Next Time,

Nicole D.P. McLaughlin