A unique blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media, revealing creative ideas, practical strategies, interesting stories, and provocative opinions. Along the way, discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising from a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
What Do Really Successful Writers Need To Do Or Be?
was a guy who just set a record for running across America in 42 days, breaking the
prior record of 46. He wasn’t Forrest Gump, but his run was monumental, racing
from California by foot to the streets of New York City. It showed how discipline, focus, hard work, and a
vision can be rewarded, that they can combine to help someone achieve a lofty
goal. Can writers apply the same will
and endurance to create their books and market them?
is certainly quite a physical feat. You
can’t be 300 pounds and do what this guy did.
You can’t have a major heart condition and do this. You can’t have messed-up joints or broken
bones in your feet and do this. Day in
and day out you have to wake up and answer the call. He averaged around 70 miles of roadwork
daily. That’s almost three marathons in
a day -- every day -- for six full weeks.
My back aches just getting up from my desk to walk to the fridge.
running is also mental. You need a
strong psychological core to center you and help you persevere through the
pain, repetition, boredom and exhaustion.
You need to visualize where you are going and then once you arrive, to
reset our internal GPS for another course.
Long-distance running may be as much a mental effort as a physical
however, are mostly challenged mentally, and not physically. They are out of balance. Many writers need the stamina to stay awake
and write – but that’s it. They don’t
have to move much and that could work against them. They need a balance between the psychological
and the physical, to get the blood flowing.
Writers are naturally curious and will venture past the book store,
library, couch or desk, but they typically are not specimens of physical
mindset would it take to succeed as a writer, especially, if you wanted to hole
yourself away for days and weeks to just be left alone to bang out the book
you’ve always wanted to write and know yourself capable of crafting? Here are 10 areas writers need to focus on:
actually need distractions, challenges, and problems so they can run away from
them – or be inspired and influenced by them.
They can’t just retreat to a rubber room and type up a 320-page book on
command. They get anxious when they are
actually given a cluster of time to write.
They start to seek outside distractions in hopes it will then repel
them back to their desk.
need to feel up against something – an enemy, a deadline, a dream. They can’t just be relaxed and settled. They write out of righteousness, anger, fear,
anxiety, or purely because they believe they discovered a truth or need to
expose a problem or villain.
need to compartmentalize and zero in on the objective at hand. They have to shut everything out and commit
to the next 30 minutes, hour or two hours to just write and filter all thoughts
through the prism of their book.
tend to get attached to their ideas and they feel obligated to defend and pursue
them. What they really need is
flexibility and permission to untie themselves from things that shackle
them. They must feel unburdened and
allow themselves to edit, re-write or even tear up their work.
need to stop wanting something that they really do little to achieve. Dream, yes, but at some point look to convert
the fantasy into reality. Don’t remain
in a state of desire – move to action.
also need to inject some honesty into the process. They should assess where they are in their
writing career and take stock of their circumstances. Look deep within to see where they really
want to be. Look at where they fall
short and start to explore what it will take to move forward. Once one acknowledges a problem, it is then that he or she begins to solve it.
need to work under a sense of urgency in order to get the job done. Do your
best – then work harder. Believe in
yourself. But don’t
rest there. Try again, try harder. Analyze things from all angles. Try things in a different way or try
different things. Be persistent and relentless
in your pursuits. Past failures don’t
guarantee new failures any more than past success guarantees future success.
to be successful, either need to feed their addictions, but manage them or shut
them down completely. Plenty of writers
are drunks, chain-smokers, overweight, gamblers, drug consumers, and sex
maniacs. I won’t judge as long as you
don’t hurt someone, although such reckless, extreme behavior eventually impacts
your life and those around you. But
writers need to either self-medicate (within reason) or go cold turkey, because
what could be a crutch can also prove to be one’s downfall.
need to tap into their life experiences and make the most of anything that
happened to them or that they witnessed.
Otherwise you need to make up the rest.
Of course, good writers can draw a wild story out of a small incident
but you still need even a spark or tiny event to get you going. What drama will you thrust yourself into?
writers will need to load up on media input.
By reading the books of others, being news junkies, and taking in other
artistic forms (plays, music, TV, films, dance), you’ll nurture your creative
genius. Writing is like a virus – you
need to catch it and then share it with others.
***********************************************America in 2000: 65,900 reporters, 128,600 PR people America in
2015: 45,800 reporters, 218,000 PR people.
– Bureau of Labor Statistics
Donald Trump says the fix is in with the news media trying to hand
Hillary Clinton a win. That is up for debate in both media and political
circles but what has not been discussed enough is the fact there are at least
five flacks for every hack – or five times as many PR pushers than there are
journalists. It was only a 2 to 1 ratio just 15 years ago – but even that
was already out of control when the number of reporters is half of the number of
influence peddlers seeking to gain their favor. Not only is the media
outmanned, they lack the resources to fully investigate the people, events, and
things they cover.
Reader Response To Advertising In Books
first hurdle to advertising in books is the unwritten rule that books can't
contain advertising. As a publisher of magazine-book hybrids (U.S. News &
World Report), we have found much confusion in the industry about whether such
a rule ever existed, still exists, is different for e-books versus printed
books, etc. It's not true that bookstores won't sell books that contain ads:
The Old Farmer's Almanac sells a couple million copies per year, much of it via
bookstores. Last month, Ingram Publisher Services began distributing our
publications to book channels, and we have been pleasantly surprised so far
with sales of our Best Colleges 2017 guidebook to traditional booksellers. But
the belief that a ban on ads exists, and uncertainty about how to get it repealed,
is likely to discourage most publishers from including ads in their books.
barriers to advertising in books include long shelf life (Ads may become
obsolete before the book goes out of print.), unpredictable book sales (How
much do you charge for an ad if you don't know how many people will see it?),
formats (Most print ads are color, but most books are printed in B&W.), and
the many months it takes for a book to get to market. Annuals have the best
shot because of their shorter time to market, predictable sales, short shelf
life, and (for some publishers) existing advertising expertise and
--Mark W. White
Vice President, Specialty Marketing
News & World Report
“In attempting to
balance objective facts with subjective interpretation, biographers must
constantly test the reliability of their sources. And they must always consider
the ethical dilemmas that inevitably arise when tempering explicitness with
respect of the subject’s privacy. These are the issues that make biographical
writing especially challenging, interesting, and – as we have found – worthy of
comment.” -- Helena Hjalmarsson
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