It’s a frustrating truth: everyone wants to win, but no one wants to play.
What am I talking about?
Everyone is trying to sell something. There are plenty of bloggers out there who are trying to gain support and traffic for their brand, their product, their work of art. And I understand that; heck, I’m doing the same thing!
But you know what makes being a seller REALLLLLY hard?
Having nobody that wants to buy.
In today’s world, it’s so easy to be “double-sided”. It’s easy to “go through the motions”. I’ve had several people act excited about wanting to buy my book and read it…but then they never did. I even asked them about it.
Their response? “Uhh…I don’t have money to spend on your book. Sorry.”
“It’s 0.99 cents”.
See what I mean?
Look, I have no problem if you don’t want to buy my book. If you aren’t interested, I’m not going to blame you. But please…PLEASE don’t lie to me. That hurts way more.
As bloggers, we need to have a sense of community. And that community will never exist if we continue to form this false sense of security–this false sense of companionship. If everyone pats each other on the back, but without actually caring…there will be no community.
Please, let’s just all be honest with each other. I understand that, at times, it can be hard to tell someone the truth. I really do. But that doesn’t mean lying is the answer.
Everyone wants to win. Everyone is selling something. But in order to sell something, you need buyers.
And sometimes, to get buyers, you need to buy.
Be a part of a community. Take a chance with someone else’s work. Believe me, it’ll work wonders for you and your community.
Recently, a duo of blogging brothers published a new story on Amazon. What did I do? I bought it right away. Was it my kind of story? No. But did I at least give them a chance? Yes. And that’s what matters.
Be a part of a community. Participate.
That’s how you win!
What do you think?
Our first character tip was BE BOLD.
We all want our main characters to stand out and be unique. Who wants to simply copy one character from another story? That’s no fun. And it won’t make us feel proud of ourselves. Sure, characters from other stories can INSPIRE the characters in our own stories…but they shouldn’t be exactly the same.
Similarly, being bold means being pronounced and having a sense of identity. Nobody likes a character that is wishy-washy and, in essence, has no character.
Which brings me to Character Tip #2
Tip #2: Have integrity
Have you ever read a book where one character makes a decision that is TOTALLY against…well, his or her character?
It’s like if the Balrog started gushing about how much he loves puppies.
Essentially, we must make sure that our characters keep in character. Sure, characters can change in the same way that real-live people can. There’s nothing wrong with that…it’s realistic! But what happens when characters are ALWAYS changing? Grumpy here, selfless in this scene, a bully in another…it just doesn’t make sense.
If your character doesn’t have integrity, make sure you give the reader a good explanation as to why. Maybe the hero of the story is having a rough day, and THAT’S why he acts like a jerk…that makes sense. But if the hero suddenly just decides to act like a jerk, for no good reason other than, say, to advance the plot? Uh, no.
So the next book in my fantasy series, Elithius, is coming out in December. If you haven’t already, check out Book One of Elithius here. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
Have you ever been able to tell that to someone? “Yeah, I’m a writer.”
It feels awesome. Naturally, we don’t like to share things about ourselves with people we don’t know. That being said, telling people about our love of writing seems like something we all look forward to. I know I do. I’m proud of what I love, and, if you’re like me, you’re dying for someone to listen to you talk about your writing experiences.
So maybe we like telling people “I’m a writer”.
But do we even realize what we’re saying?
If you really are a writer, analyze what I’m about to say with a writer’s eye. By saying “I am a writer”, what verb are you using?
“Am”. It’s a verb of being.
Do you realize what you are saying?
Some would say that you are defining something deep about yourself…something so deep, it’s akin to your very nature. What is the definition of nature, as ascertained by philosophers that are way smarter than me?
“Nature-Essence at its center of activity: a thing’s fundamental function”
To say that you ARE a writer implies that it is your nature. It is your fundamental function.
I dare you. I DARE you. Ask yourself a simple question:
“Am I really a writer?”
(“Or do I just write from time to time?”)
Does writing define who you are? Do you need writing? Is writing your fundamental function?
I’ve read a lot of stories about the experiences of successful authors. What those stories had in common was how much those authors had to dive into a lifestyle of writing, whether it was easy or not. They made writing their fundamental function. It was write or die.
My dear followers, are you willing to do the same?
Are you a writer?
If the answer is “no”, then what are you willing to give?
If you want to be successful, if you want to be true to yourself, don’t just write.
Be a writer…
…so that you can say this and know it in your heart: “I. Am. A. Writer.”
Now go for it, and apply this to any part of your life that involves (or should involve) passion.
What do you think?
The following 225-word scene is a sneak-peek at my upcoming book in Elithius. Let me know what you think!
(note: Ultra Malam=the Evil=the monster, etc)
PROTAGONIST: AETHYER GRIM
What is this thing!?
I grip the ground. Have to get up.
The monster steps closer.
I push against the ground, causing pain to spike through me again. My arms quiver; I can’t even lift my own weight. You have to! I scream at myself. My eyes fall to my sister.
The Evil is five feet from us.
An arrow slams into the left shoulder of the Ultra Malam. The Evil jerks backwards in response, uttering a harsh, furious growl, and grabs the shaft of the arrow, ripping it out. Where did that come from?
“Get away from them! Over here!” someone shouts. It’s a male’s voice.
“Over here!” calls someone else.
The Ultra Malam raises its eyes from me and Addy, its gaze alighting on a new target. I immediately know what the Evil is about to do. “Watch out!” I scream, forcing the words out. Or at least I tried to scream. I am surprised at how weak and hoarse my voice is.
The Evil vanishes into the air…as I expected. I wish I could turn around, to see what’s going on. Or I wish I could rise and help, or at least get Addy somewhere away from here. She’s already passed out…I hope she isn’t dead.
Because if she is…I’m not too far behind.
I black out.
A while back, I had the honor of asking for and receiving advice from Joel Eisenberg, a Hollywood producer whose books are now becoming a television series (The Chronicles of Ara).
This information just doesn’t get old!
So here are the questions I asked him, after reading a post about his journey as a writer.
Would you call your story of becoming a writer…relatable? How much of your path relied on luck, being in the right spot at the time, etc.? I hear stories like yours a decent amount, and I always find myself sighing: How could that ever happen to me?
From what you said, I understand that you literally gave up everything to become a writer. Maybe it didn’t seem like you were giving anything up, but from my perspective, it certainly seems like it. You ditched reason and what others would call having a “normal life” (by ditching your job!). I understand that this worked for you in the long run…but would you encourage others to do the same thing, even though this could potentially distort someone’s life…and then, in the end, it may not even pan out the way it did for you?
Just coming to you honestly, thanks for any advice!
Love the questions, Dominic. Thank you and I appreciate your honest feedback more than you know. Let me try to take these in order.
“Would you call your story of becoming a writer … relatable?”
– My path was my path; some may relate, others may not. Remember, Dominic, as I mentioned in a prior reply above – everyone’s path is individual. Some may have commitments with their children, for example, while others may have no children. Some may work 15 hour days to pay bills and work jobs they loathe, while others may have certain freedoms based on the amount of money in a savings account. Your path will never exactly follow another.
However, like John Grisham, who worked countless hours as an attorney and wrote “The Firm” in whatever spare moments he had, like Stephen King and so many others … A person can ALWAYS find the time to write, or send an email query, or replay to a blog post. It becomes then a question of time management and discipline to most prudently work with the tools you have to attain your goals.
“How much of your path relied on luck, being in the right spot at the time, etc.?”
– That was actually my problem for so long. I waited and waited and waited some more … and nothing happened. There were projects here and there, stacks of returned scripts … but my career went nowhere. It’s only when I got desperate that I realized only I could turn all this around. I did something I never did – I wrote that book (and did have a few non-performing films prior) – and it made all the difference for me. I PROACTIVELY kept in touch with all the people who contributed that trod similar paths, and I PROACTIVELY kept up my networking group for years. I got out of my comfort zone. I don’t believe “luck” was part of the equation.
“I hear stories like yours a decent amount, and I always find myself sighing: How could that ever happen to me?”
– I made that same observation and asked myself that exact question for so many years. I’ve so been there. But see above. I never stopped writing. I never stopped dreaming. The sacrifices were outrageous and I would not recommend those sacrifices to everyone. But, again, I’ve always had a sort of primal “need” to write; it’s always been more than a simple “want” for me. I made it work. The others who share similar stories made it work as well.
Look, sacrifice is a monster. I ended relationships, risked sleeping on the street, and a relatively new marriage, didn’t eat well, paid bills late … I would not recommend this. But my point is — I found the way. I tell people who attend my courses, speaking engagements and such that they don’t have to go to the extent I have. I did all the work. I learned what works and what does not, and why. There is no road map; if there was everyone would follow it and everyone would share the same degree of success.
There’s not a roadmap, though, but what there is are very specific strategies to save you an insane amount of work to help you get where you need to be.
Not luck, science.
Hope the response helps …
I was so happy that he took me seriously and actually got back to me! I also respected that he didn’t sugar-coat anything; he was being totally honest. Overall, I think what he said was encouraging, but you still get the sense that being a writer is HARD.
What do you think of his response? Thoughts?
So I published a book!!! Here’s the description:
His parents abandon him when he’s thirteen. He’s left to care for his little brother and sister. Life is tough. Things can’t seem to get any worse.
But then Evil Itself breaks down the door. It kidnaps his siblings. And It leaves him bleeding out on the floor of his own home.
The Golden Lands, one of the Three Worlds of Elithius, is supposed to be a place of light, peace and happiness. But the Golden Lands hasn’t been such a place for John Hedekira, a jaded, hot-headed sixteen-year-old. Joined by his friends Faith Pinck and Bernard Tanner, John must rescue his brother and sister from their captors…before his siblings can be sacrificed to the ominous God of Death.
So I’ve been noticing that, now more than ever, there is an influx of new bloggers. What’s more, many of my most recent followers seem to be bloggers that are just starting their journey here on WordPress.
To all of you, welcome!!!
A lot of you seem to be very attracted to my more educational posts, like “The Reason Why People ‘Like’ But They Don’t Comment”. So I thought I’d write another “educational post”, particularly geared towards you new bloggers.
The First Thing You Want to Do…
Identity yourself to yourself. What does that mean? It means that, as you start writing, as you start reaching out, networking, meeting other bloggers, targeting specific audiences, you need to know first and foremost WHO YOU ARE as a blogger. You can only reach the audience you want once you decide what kind of blog you are going to run.
So identify yourself to yourself. What do you think you’ll write about? Do you review books or movies? Write about sports? Cooking? Are you trying to promote a book or a business?
You need to figure this out.
The truth is, it’s obnoxious as a reader to visit a blog about book reviews, only to find they decided to go off on a cooking tangent. Centralizing what you write about is important to maintaining and developing a community around yourself.
However, if you’re the kind of person who likes to blog about anything and everything, disregard this completely! 😀 😀 😀
Next: Identify Your Audience
I cannot stress this enough: once you discover and surround yourself with like-minded bloggers, blogging becomes so much more FUN!
The number one word that captures the essence of blogging is COMMUNITY. And to build and enter the community that you want, you have to find the right people.
So identify your target audience.
A while back, I wanted to target an audience of anime-watchers. Why? I’m writing a book that is very anime-esque (among other things). So I tried to write about anime, to reach out to other people that liked anime…but it just wasn’t working. Why? Because I don’t watch enough anime to connect with other people.
Although I thought anime fans were my target audience, it took me a while to understand that I was wrong.
So I took a different approach: I started targeting fellow writers. And let me tell you, that made a big difference!! I discovered my community in them, aspiring and self-published authors like me. And suddenly, my blogging world truly became alive.
Identifying your audience is important, especially if you’re trying to promote something. But, in the end, it’s even more important for the sake of creating a community…which, once again, is what blogging is all about!
Stick With It
We all struggle with this from time to time. We lack motivation because life gets busy, our blogging efforts seem fruitless, or other bloggers seem to be doing so much better. Believe me, I get it. I’ve been blogging for three years and I only have 420 followers. To some of you, that might seem like a lot, but it’s not.
The goal is to keep at it. Fight through the dull moments. Keep on writing.
Believe me, if you stop writing, you’ll accomplish nothing. I know that seems like an obvious statement, but it couldn’t be more true. If you stop writing, you’ll accomplish nothing.
So you must continue to write.
I hope these tips were helpful! As always, Let me know what you think!
Like the way I write? Check out my new book Elithius on Amazon here! The Kindle version is only $0.99 for a limited time only!! Get it now!
As bloggers and writers, both published, self published, or unpublished, I think we all get to that point where we wonder: is it ever going to be enough?
Are my efforts ever going to be WORTH it? How much longer do I have to persevere? When will my story take off?
Fair questions. Everybody is asking them.
The truth is, I don’t know how much is enough. I don’t know where you have to be or how far you have to go. The world is a cruel place, especially to writers.
Well, first of all, there’s simply TONS of competition. Years ago if you said, “I’m a writer–I wrote a book” people’s jaws would drop in amazement. “Really?!” they’d say. “I could never do that!”
But nowadays, if you tell someone, “I wrote a book”, they very well might reply, “Yeah, me too!”
Let’s face it. Being a writer isn’t an anomaly anymore.
You know what is an anomaly? BEING A WRITER THAT STANDS OUT.
It’s easy to be a writer. It’s easy to be a GOOD writer. But being a writer that stands out is what everyone is looking for.
I guess that’s your answer then: how much is enough? How far do you have to go?
As far as it takes to make yourself STAND OUT.
Lots of people have great writing skills. Lots of people have good stories, compelling characters, etc. But not everyone is able to put all of those traits together into something wonderful, unique, and capable of being BETTER than everyone else’s.
Take a step back. Analyze yourself and your writing. What makes you stand out? Or what WILL make you stand out?
If you can figure out the answers to these questions, then you’ll soon know how much is enough.
What do you think?
My book, Elithius, is still available for download and purchase here. Lemme know what you think of it!