This simple question changed everything for me

A decade ago, I sat down on the floor of my old apartment and took out a stack of index cards. The floors were crooked, and whoever installed the carpet in the living room did it wrong — there was this harsh ridge running diagonally across the floor. There I sat, on one side of the carpet ridge, and on each index card I wrote down a goal for my life.

After I had around 10 cards, I organized them into a pyramid where the single biggest goal was at the top. Since that time, I have turned this process into an exercise I call “Clarity Cards,” and I often take writers through it in order to help them get radically clear about their priorities.

The other day, I found my original Clarity Cards. They included a mix of goals around health, time with family, and infusing my life with creativity. But one card jumped out at me:

At the time, my wife and I did not yet have kids. I was working a job at a large publishing company, commuting about an hour and a half each way to work.

With these index cards I was reassessing the distance between my daily reality and the life I hoped to lead.

The “stay at home dad” thing was my way of saying that I wanted to be present in the lives of my family once we had kids. To not always be on a train, or in an office 30 miles away from my wife and kids.

The second part of that card is what jumped out at me today: “Earn money from home.” And then the frantically written word: “How?!”

Since that time, I left my corporate job in publishing, and have run my own company for eight years. I work in a private studio less than a mile from my home, and spend loads of time with my family each day.

The question of “how?!” feels like a less frantic question nowadays, but still an important one I ask myself often. It’s astounding to look at this index card and consider the moment I wrote it, and then look at my life today which has answered that question, and lived up to the intention of that goal.

I’m thankful for this every moment of every day.

In my work with writers, we sometimes focus on similar questions. They want to define their own version of what success looks like, and how they can achieve it.

In my conversations with writers each day, they often come to me hoping to:

  1. Create meaningful connection with readers
  2. Find more time to write
  3. Define their creative identity

These people are mapping out the distance between where they are and where they hope to be. Together, we navigate that path.

In doing so, a simple question of “How?!” is turned into a structured process. I have worked with hundreds of writers in this manner. The focus of much of this work in the past few years has been my Creative Shift Mastermind program. The feedback has been astounding:

“I am inspired by the amazing folks in this Mastermind. The adage that you become who you hang out with is true and I can become a better writer and creative person by spending time with this group. This Mastermind is far more than I imagined it could be.”
– Barbara Boyd

Kimberli Bindschatel“I thought I’d signed up for the Mastermind to get my career back on track. Seems like we’ve delved into getting my whole life onto a better track.”
– Kimberli Bindschatel

Dawn Downey“This Mastermind has given me a sense of direction with the business side of my writing that I’ve never had before.”
— Dawn Downey

 

Simon Maple“In the Mastermind I have gone through profound creative growth. I learned new things about myself, making experiential, intellectual and emotional connections that surprised me and enriched me. That’s the secret power that Dan’s Mastermind unleashes. He is a master weaver of collaboration. Magic occurs in the Mastermind.”
– Simon Maple

KJ Dell Antonia“Dan’s encouragement and insights helped me to change my approach to connecting with my readers and my community. He helped me stay true to my values and my self.”
— KJ Dell’Antonia

Rachel Barry“I started the Mastermind because I was stuck. I thought about writing all the time–but I didn’t actually write. Dan and the Mastermind of creatives helped me get out of this tremendous slump and into the most productive creative period I’ve ever experienced. I’m writing, I’m submitting, I’m confident. The Mastermind is a priceless experience.”
– Rachel Barry

When I see the faces above, I think of the months we spent working together in collaboration. There is a richness to that experience, especially when it is focused on such wonderful creative goals.

If you are considering how you will make progress towards your goals in 2019, please consider joining me in the Creative Shift Mastermind. Full details here.

Thanks!
-Dan

Your Creative Support System

My days are spent talking to writers, and delving into the reality of what truly works in ensuring they:

  • Find more time to write and create.
  • Define their creative identity.
  • Forge a meaningful connection with readers.

In those conversations, I hear a lot about what trips up writers in the process. They struggle alone, without any colleagues or support system. They bounce between different creative ideas, unsure which to focus on. They get stuck on the hamster wheel of social media trends to try to reach their audience. They wallow in impostors syndrome, unsure if their work is good enough. They feel overwhelmed by all they are told they have to do, and frustrated that nothing they try seems to work.

The challenges that many writers face is that they are drowning in too much information, presented to them in an endless series of emails, courses, webinars, Facebook Groups, podcasts, blog posts, and conferences. They get distracted by the wrong milestones, leaving them feeling bad that they don’t have “enough” followers on social media.

Writers who struggle spend a lot of time studying what works for others, instead of honing what works for themselves. They forgo actually writing and creating because they are busy looking for “best practices” and shortcuts.

In the process, they hide their work from the world, because they are waiting for someone else (an agent or publisher), or some milestone (a book launch), to magically do that work for them.

The reality? Successful authors are their own best advocates.

What Does Work

So what does work? What is missing in everything I listed above? How does someone find more time to write, feel clarity in their creative identity, and reach the their audience? In all of my years of working with thousands of writers, these are what I have found these to be essential ingredients:

  • Don’t go it alone. Develop colleagues and professional collaborators that provide accountability and true guidance.
  • Connect with one reader at a time instead of trying to game the system for followers. Focus on true connections with real people.
  • Hone your creative process, and in doing so, develop a support system around your creative work.
  • Experiment with ideas that feel authentic to you instead of copying best practices that thousands of others are also copying.

For years, I taught self-paced courses to try to help writers do these things. But I noticed something: people signed up for courses, but didn’t finish them. I’ve heard that from many others who teach online courses as well, the would report that a small fraction of students made it to the end of their courses.

I’ve had writers tell me that they signed up for a $2,000 course because they didn’t want to miss out. Yet months later, they had yet to find even a moment to open the course. They hoped to get to it at some later date, when their life magically had more free time.

I talk to writers all the time who hop from course to course, yet never seem satisfied — they are always searching.

Focus on Skills Not Just Information

I want to encourage you to develop your skills and your support system, don’t just collect information.

I have this quote on my wall from Fred Rogers:

“I am much more concerned that our society is interested in information, instead of wonder.”

I feel like it applies here as well. If you are only focused on information, you are missing out on the fulfilling experience of what it means to be a writer:

  1. To feel comfortable with your own clarity and creative process.
  2. That you have colleagues and a support system of others.
  3. You have a meaningful connection with real people who like your work.

In the past three years, I have been honing the system that I feel provides this. It’s a three month program called The Creative Shift Mastermind.

Here, I provide personalized guidance, welcome you into a small group of writers and creators who become your support system, and we all work together towards your creative goals.

We dig into how to find more time to write and create, define your creative identity, and forge meaningful connections with your audience.

The bottom line of what it provides:

  • It runs from January 1 – March 31, 2019
  • Join a small group of 9 other writers & creators who will become your creative community.
  • I show up in this group every single day. You get tons of access to me for feedback, brainstorming, and guidance.
  • We schedule two one-on-one phone calls with me.
  • Receive a free package in the mail that includes 15+ worksheets and guides, a copy of my book, Be the Gateway, and more.
  • This is a virtual group, you don’t have to show up anywhere at any specific day or time.
  • Price $297 per month, with a three month commitment.

You can find full information on The Creative Shift Mastermind and register here.

If that doesn’t work for you for any reason, then I encourage you to do this: find a collaborator in your creative work. Someone who will become your accountability partner and the start of a support system. Become a student of your own creative process. Learn what works best for you, and where you can find margin in your life to create more. Reach out to actual readers and writers to learn what engages real human beings about the types of work you create. Don’t just rely on marketing trends. Find a mentor who you trust to help guide you in the areas where you are unsure of how to proceed.

Are these steps easy to do on your own? Not always. Which is why I created the Mastermind, a support system that helps you truly succeed with your writing and creative vision.

Thank you.
-Dan

Thankful

Every day, I work from a private studio. Here I collaborate with writers, work on my own writing, and obsess about the creative process.

Dan Blank

On the wall in front of me are photos of writers, artists and creators who inspires me:

I want to share the story behind four of those photos today.

Here is a young Chuck Berry:

It can be said that rock n’ roll didn’t have a single “inventor” and you can trace back it’s origins to many different people. But if there is one person I would point to who truly represented the birth of rock ‘n roll, someone who was the first to define so many aspects of it, it would be Chuck Berry. When I look at a photo of young Chuck Berry, it is astounding to consider all of the things he will create. The music he will write. The way he will define a music, performance, and cultural style. It is a reminder that every child and every adult has this potential. Not just to succeed, but to create something that will turn the world on its head. Thank you Chuck Berry.

Here is Jiro Ono (second from left):

He is the sushi chef made famous in the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” Today he is 93 years old, and likely still showing up to his restaurant and preparing sushi for his customers. Just has he has done for most of the last century. Think about that: he does the same thing today as he has done in 1987, 1968, 1951. His work is a reminder that the creative process is a practice. One you have to show up for each day. That the work only gets deeper the longer you do it. You don’t rise to some plateau, and then coast. You keep showing up. You keep honing your craft. You keep growing as a person. You keep delighting those who appreciate your work. Thank you Jiro.

This is Vivian Maier:

She too was made famous in documentary, “Finding Vivian Maier.” She worked as a nanny from the 1950s through the 1990s. Why is she on my wall? Because during that time of caring for children, she often carried a camera with her. In her lifetime, she took more than 150,000 photos, most of them what we would now call “street photography.” She captured poignant images of people she saw in everyday life around Chicago. Today, it’s not hard to imagine taking 150,000 images with your phone. Each photo has no cost, and you can take a decent photo with your eyes closed. But Vivian took these images on film, on a camera that likely only shot 10 pictures per roll, while also caring for children and going about her daily work. Vivian teaches me that each of us — regardless of how the world sees us — can create work of captivating beauty using the most ordinary of tools. In our lifetimes, we can create a body of work that will inspire others for generations, even if we get no credit for it while living. Thank you Vivian.

This is Jeanne-Claude and Christo:

They have created large scale works of art. I saw them speak in 2004 just before they opened a new work called “The Gates.” At the time, I was enamored with the artists, but skeptical of The Gates. Their idea was to line the paths of Central Park in Manhattan with 7,500 structures that you could walk through. These looked like awkward rectangles that had a piece of orange fabric hanging down from each. To me, it seemed like a strange idea to have spent so much time and money on. They began the project in 1979 and it took 25 years to convince the city to allow them to do it. A few months later when I was able to finally experience The Gates, I realized how mistaken I was. the experience they created was magical. I had walked through Central Park many times before, but this experience was wholly different. The Gates encouraged you to explore the park in new ways. I found myself pushing ahead to see how the landscape was changed because of these objects. But what jumped out at me even more was how The Gates changed human interaction. Normally in Central Park, you try not to get mugged. But when The Gates were there, everyone was happy. You met new people. You connected with strangers over art. It was incredible. Thank you Jeanne-Claude and Christo.

There are many other photos on the wall of my studio, and many more that need to be added. But I’m curious:

Who inspires you to create? Whose story helps you hone your creative process and push yourself ahead even amidst setbacks? Whose photos should hang on your wall?

Thanks.
-Dan

Listen to Your Readers

A few weeks back I launched a program called The Reader Connection Project. This was meant to be a free 10-day course, where I walk writers through 5 actions they can take to immediately connect with readers.

Things didn’t go as planned.

I expected like 9 people to sign up for this. I figured I would spend the week with a handful of writers, and it would fun little collaboration.

But quickly there were 40, then 70, then 110, then 160, then 200 people who had registered. I was blown away.

Today I want to share the feedback of what these 200 writers learned in this project, and do so in a way that will be useful to you. I’m also going to share what I learned along the way.

This piece of feedback from a writer who participated is a good starting point:

“This has been a great project for me, helping me connect with readers and also helping me get over seriously bad self doubt. I can’t tell you how freeing this feels. And it wouldn’t have happened without the Reader Connection Project.”

Here are the top takeaways that writers got out of the program:

Go Deep, Not Wide

Most writers I know are tired of trying to get more followers. They are convinced that agents and publishers and readers want to see a big number of followers. The result? The writer exhausts themselves trying to game the system with tips and tricks and shortcuts.

What is the alternative? This feedback a writer shared:

“The Reader Connection Project reframed how I think about marketing: develop a deeper relationship with the reader, thereby building bridges of mutual interest and respect.”

Doesn’t that just feel better? And doesn’t it intuitively make sense? Social media is people, and no one wants to engage on some superficial level. They want depth.

When you decide to go deep instead of wide, suddenly social media makes sense. It becomes just like real life. No one runs around trying to shake as many hands as possible. Instead, they forge real connections with people, and sustain them slowly over time.

There, that’s your social media strategy.

Joining a Creative Community Creates Momentum

It can be soooooo lonely to not just write on your own, but to figure out platform and marketing as well. That isolation can create a lot of false narratives that you alone are failing, while everyone else is succeeding. That’s not true.

This piece of feedback really struck me:
“The biggest thing was realizing that so many authors are going through what I am going through. Struggling to find my readers, and finding the right way, for me, to help people discover my books. But this group has shown me that, like me, there are so many writers out there who dearly want to personally connect with their audience and really serve their readers. It restored my faith. And I’ve found all of you quite inspiring.”

That is why I work with writers, instead of shoving them into some course where they drown amidst 50 modules. A linchpin of this is the Creative Shift Mastermind that I run, because I have seen the profound difference that working with a small group of other writers can make.

It’s like a veil is lifted:

“These videos and the interaction with other writers is helping me understand my ideal readers much faster with a more balanced view. I can’t say how absolutely great it has been to connect with other writers in exactly the same place as me.”

If you are struggling alone with this work, find a collaborator, or a group of collaborators.

Listening Helps You Communicate More Effectively

Too many writers try to launch a “platform” before they have really spent time listening to readers. The result, their readers feel like some distant person and the writer is stuck posting random stuff, desperately trying to sell a book.

I loved this feedback:
“The Reader Connection Project showed me how my ideal reader might think – and how to really speak their language. I discovered some things I was quite mistaken about; some things I was half-doing.”

And this:
“This program helped me talk about my books and how I communicate with my readers.”

The internet has made the voice of the reader so much more accessible. You can more easily read reviews and hear how readers talk about books, but you also have the ability to reach out to readers and writers directly via online tools.

If you are primarily focused on getting ‘likes’ and ‘follows’, I want to encourage you to switch your mentality and consider, how can you reach out to one person and have a meaningful conversation around books?

Then consider: how can this help you better communicate what you write and why?

Readers are not Demographics, They are Complex

This was the heart of the project: understanding readers so you can better connect with them. Too often, writers describe their ideal readership in flat, wholly unhuman terms. They list out vague demographics, or a simplistic view of someone whose entire life seems to hinge on reading a single type of book.

Writers do this because the truth can be confusing: readers are complex.

But when you truly spend the time to talk to readers, and study how they talk about books, you find insights that others miss. Like this:

“The Reader Connection Project helped me identify two new kinds of readers for my books who I would have thought to try and reach.”

“The Reader Connection project gave me a glimpse into the heart and head of the reader.”

“The Reader Connection Project helped me delve into readers’ motivation for reading, that the answers are complex, that readers themselves don’t always know how to articulate.”

When I work with private clients, we often create personas to try to understand the core readers we hope to reach. But even when we do that, we describe them as holistic human beings, who have a wide range of preferences. I want to encourage you to view your readers in the same way.

There is No “Audience,” Only Individual People

The term “audience” creates a vision that you are speaking to a collection of people who are all the same. But whether you are sending a Tweet or publishing a book, each person reads it as an individual. What it means to them is personal. This perhaps sums it up best:

“The fundamental takeaway of The Reader Connection Project for me: Writing a book is about connecting with my fellow human beings”

Stop Copying What Other Writers Are Doing

Writers often study blogs, podcasts, webinars, and courses to identify “best practices” on how to develop their platform and market to their ideal audience. They do so because they want a shortcut — a hack — that allows them to identify what works and avoid what doesn’t.

That sounds smart, right?

The problem with it is that a writer in this situation is copying what thousands of others are copying, and it’s often a tactic that worked really well a few years ago, but has long since stopped providing good returns.

Do your own research. Talk to readers. Talk to writers. Develop your platform and marketing based on how you are and who you hope to connect with.

This feedback was welcome to hear:

“The powerful insight for me is that while most of the “best practice” advice is overwhelming, the idea of making human connections is very accessible. I can do that.”

“One thing your and this community you’ve built has taught me is to trust my instincts more.”

I want the aspects of your life that deal with platform and marketing to feel fulfilling. It’s difficult for that to happen when you are on a crowded hamster wheel chasing the next marketing trend.

Start Now, So You Don’t Panic Later

What I have found is that the sooner you begin this type of work — discovering the voice of the reader and connecting with them — the better you will feel when it is time to launch your book.

I have been through hundreds of book launches. I know that feeling when the book you have worked on for years is about to be published, and you simply want to do everything in your power to ensure it connects with readers.

Why wait until the last minute until you are in the “launch window” to do this work. When you view your readership as human beings, the nice thing is that it is easy to identify simple ways to connect with them right now.

Here are some good quotes that sum it up:

“The Reader Connection Project taught me that it’s both OK and necessary to connect with readers long before you have a book to sell. How to make connections with people one at a time and how to offer something of value to gain trust well ahead of sharing my novel and asking them to spend both their hard earned money and precious time.”

“Through your tutelage, Dan, I became a student of what people read, their motivations. Knowing this is so important as I anticipate my memoir launch next year.”

“Dan, you have a way of inspiring me to do stuff I have been putting off and of coming out of my shell for the sake of my art.”

I Learned So Much As Well…

The truth is, the Reader Connection Project taught me a lot as well. I tend to prefer deep collaborations with writers, and over the years I have honed the two ways to work with me into two programs:

  1. The Creative Shift Mastermind: a three month program where I work with groups of 10 writers at a time.
  2. One-on-One Consulting: where I become the copilot in helping a writer develop their platform, reach readers, and launch their books.

My experience in the past couple of weeks taught me that some writers want to work with me, but need a smaller commitment. That has given me a lot to consider as I prepare my programs for 2019.

Another thing I have learned is to consider how to amplify the message of a book. The real reason that I expected only 9 people to sign up for the Reader Connection Project? Because for the most part, each of the five steps are already covered in my book, Be the Gateway. I figured that this information had been “out there” for two years now.

But again and again, writers in the Reader Connection Project mentioned that they had read my book awhile ago, but only because of this project were they now taking action.

What was the difference between this project and reading the book? A few things:

  • Videos: As a core part of this project (and my Mastermind for that matter) is that I shared videos where I talk through details of each step. The feedback I received was that hearing the advice was so much more useful than just reading it.
  • Community: Working with a small group of other motivated writers is a world of difference than sitting alone in your house, and having to figure things out on your own.
  • Leadership: Again and again, people mentioned that they could really feel how much I cared about writers and readers when they watched my videos and went through the program. I think there is a big difference between seeing a series of tactics on a to-do list vs having someone truly guide you through them.

Everything I learned above is being infused in what I create in 2019. The first of which will be my next Creative Shift Mastermind program. If you want to be the first to know when I open the doors, please add your name to the early interest list here.

Thanks!
-Dan

You have to ask

Some writers I speak to have this dream: that they will release their books, and something magical will happen. People will find it. People will read it. People will review it and tell their friend about it. A wave of interest takes hold, and before they know it, they have a dedicated readership.

That dream is not often the reality.

Does it happen? Yep. It actually does happen. But not nearly as often as we would like to think.

When it does happen, what is often hidden is all of the behind-the-scenes hard work that the author did to connect the book with readers. Today I want to share three inspiring examples of authors and artists who did just that. Who moved their careers forward by not waiting for the world to discover them, but to instead take actions to forge meaningful connections with those who would love their work.

Are you worried there is some complicated system? Well, there isn’t. I can actually boil their advice down to one word:

ASK.

That’s it. If you want the world to discover your work, your talent, your vision, don’t wait for people to magically discover you. Reach out to them. Ask.

But asking is super difficult, right? It means we have to engage with other human beings. It means they could say ‘no.’ It means we could be rejected. Judged. Laughed at.

Well, today I can’t wait to share the inspiring stories of Meera, Samantha, and Cathey. Three women who didn’t wait for the world to discover their writing and art, but who ensured that their voice was heard.

Meera Lee Patel on Asking

Meera Lee Patel is an author and illustrator whose creative work is her full-time job. I had interviewed her back in April, and we did a second interview a few weeks back. What jumped out at me in our conversation was this statement:

“I did a talk a couple months ago in New York, and we were talking about rejection. They asked the panel, “When is the last time you got rejected.” I said, “I get rejected every day.” Somebody kind of laughed and was like, “Are you cold calling people, why are you getting rejected so often?” I said, “Oh yeah, I’m cold calling people. I’m seeking people out and saying, ‘I like the work you make and I want to make it with you.’ I don’t see that as a bad thing.”

This scenario really jumped out at me. How Meera confronted the notion that you don’t just silently wait for people to discover your work. I loved how she reframed cold-calling: not as a ruthless pitch, but as a mutual collaboration. She goes on to explain that the perception of her success and the reality of her process differ:

“I do know that people look at me and they are like, ‘I would like to be where you are,’ and people do not come to me, even now. Any work I’ve gotten has been from me reaching and saying, ‘Hey, can I do this with you.”

“I don’t have anybody emailing me asking me to do things for them. I reach out constantly. I used to reach out to just anybody, because I was like, ‘I just need work, and I need to pay the bills.”

“I’m lucky enough that I get to be a little choosier now. I’m like, ‘What are my dream companies? Where does my work fit in? Do I believe in them and their products? Is my work ready.”

“Then I reach out to them. But nobody emails me back, ever.”

“I pitch myself so often, where I forget to where I reach out to, so it’s nice because I get to forgo that feeling of rejection. When I get rejected from somebody, and I feel really bummed about it, I have a rule, that for every rejection that I feel down about, I have to reach out to three more companies or people. That action of forging ahead anyway makes me feel like I am doing something to change the current state that I’m in. So that action changes my attitude, and I always feel better knowing that I already tried again.”

“For every 10 people I reach out to, I probably get three responses, and usually all three are rejections. But sometimes one is positive and two are rejections. Or two are rejections and one is ‘not right now, but try again in a year.’ So the acceptance rate is very very low. And I think that is across the board for most people, unless they are highly coveted, just because there are so many artists out there, and there is so much amazing work, that I don’t think companies and brands could possibly hire everybody. I don’t take it personally anymore, but it took awhile to get there.” What’s amazing to me is even with all of this rejection, this is the work it takes to create a full-time career as an artist. This process actually works!”

Meera’s experience is a cold dose of reality that cuts both ways. YES this is difficult work. But also: YES this work actually pays off.

I think too many writers and artists spend too much time scouring the web for shortcuts. For hacks that make it easy to find the secret button in Amazon that will magically sell more books.

But the real tools are the ones we are all born with: our ability to forge meaningful connections with like-minded people.

You can listen to my full interview with Meera here.

Samantha Hahn on Asking

I first interviewed author, illustrator and art director Samantha Hahn back in 2015, and a few weeks ago we sat down for another interview.

I knew that she was in the middle of a big creative shift. After years of being a full-time illustrator and author, she wanted to expand her career to include art direction. She and I had coffee back in 2017 and she told me how she was breaking into the field. I was just astounded by her bravery and gumption. How she was making contacts, getting work, and learning the skills.

How did she get her first clients as an art director? She didn’t respond to job listings — instead, she did this:

“I reached out to brands who were starting out, or brands who had a really amazing product that I loved, but I could see how to elevate their presentation. That was my initial point of entry: reaching out to brands whose products I thought was good, and whose products I would be excited to showcase in my own portfolio, or elevate in their own marketing materials, and reach out to them and make a pitch about how to do a photo shoot to them.”

When she first asked a friend for advice on where to begin as an art director, her friend replied, “There is no money in it, but everyone starts with photo shoots for editorial, meaning magazines or websites.”

Even knowing there was no money, Samantha jumped in head first:

“It’s a chance to collaborate with a group of creative people whose work you like.” “That was my first light bulb moment. I can figure out how to do a photo shoot. That’s how I started, by assembling people I wanted to work with, and producing images that were compelling. I learned how to create mood boards through that. There was a lot I had to learn, and I was willing to make a lot of mistakes and fall on my face and just do the best I could and figure out things on the fly and problem solve on the fly.”

Today, Samantha continues her illustration work, but now has an impressive portfolio of art direction work as well. Why? Because she asked.

You can listen to my full interview with Samantha here.

Cathey Nickell on Asking

Not long ago, I worked with author Cathey Nickell in my Creative Shift Mastermind. About two years ago she published her book Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car. But the other day, she posted an incredible update on Facebook:

“I recently celebrated my FIFTIETH school author visit! I’ve delivered my presentation so many times, I can practically do it in my sleep. Nevertheless, every visit feels fun and special.”

That number is stunning. Fifty times that she was able to bring her book into the lives of kids, teachers, librarians, and parents.

I reached out to Cathey about the details, and what she told me was astounding. So, I recorded an interview!

In the process of booking these 50 school visits, I learned:

  • She sold more than 2,500 copies of her self-published book.
  • She was a paid speaker for most of these visits.
  • She brought in creative collaborators — the illustrator for the book, and usually had an actual “art car” show up at the reading.

Cathey’s gumption and ability to connect her books to kids is just amazing.

You can listen to my full interview with Cathey here.

Conclusion

These three stories are not unusual. Every day, I speak to writers and artists who share their own versions of this. They didn’t find some secret hack that allowed them to get 1,000 new book sales or 10,000 new followers.

Instead, they consistently reached out to like-minded people. They asked. They collaborated. They created meaningful connections that developed into trusting relationships.

That can be scary, right? But it is also freeing. To know that today, you can can connect your writing and creative work to the world by simply reaching out and asking.

Thanks.
-Dan

P.S.There is a wonderful book on this topic that I highly recommend: The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer.